AfDB / ICA hosts a conference on Electricity funding in Africa

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Tunis, 13th December 2006 - The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) held on Wednesday 12th in Tunis a conference on the theme "Financing Electricity for Growth in Africa".

The major objective of organizing the meeting was to sensitize key energy, investment and legal corporations to possible electricity infrastructure projects on the continent. It was also intended to serve as a platform for knowledge-sharing on key energy issues and the promotion of dialogue between project sponsors and the private sector. The general consensus is that these objectives have been achieved.

Welcoming participants to the conference, AfDB Vice-President for Infrastructure, NEPAD and the private sector, Mandla Gantsho said that the Bank had been making smart partnerships in the infrastructure domain in order to support the continent’s development efforts, adding that the institution had been playing a greater role in development financing.

President Donald Kaberuka, for his part, commended ICA for its role in the continent’s efforts to deal with infrastructure challenges, noting that AfDB was pleased to be associated with the conference. 

Kaberuka cited existing ongoing energy inter-connection and partnership projects, giving the examples of the Algeria-Morocco-Spain Interconnection and Mozambique-South Africa Gas Pipeline, both jointly financed by the AfDB with other partners.

He also referred to the preparation of a Medium to Long Term Strategic Framework (MLTSF) that will guide infrastructure development on the continent for the next 15 to 20 years and commended the role of the Bank in the development of the Clean Energy for Development Investment Framework (CEDIF) that was launched after the Gleneagles summit in 2005.

In his intervention as part of the AfDB eminent speakers series, former Tanzanian president and Co-chair of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa, Benjamin Mkapa, regretted the underdevelopment and marginalization of Africa in respect to average per capita energy consumption and level of productivity and prosperity. He said that "access to energy is vital to Africa’s efforts at attaining any of the Millennium Development Goals pertaining to water and sanitation, gender equality in education, child malnutrition and mortality and other health targets."

He also voiced the irony that while sub-Saharan Africa sits on some of the most significant potential fuel reserves and largest water courses as potential source of hydroelectricity generation in the world, no more than 20% of the population (2% in rural areas) has access to electricity.

The conference was attended by participants from all parts of the world, representing power utility management companies, banking institutions, law firms, regional power pools and governments. Also present at the meeting were the NEPAD Secretariat, as well as regional and international institutions interested in electricity projects in Africa.

The agenda was conceived around 5 sessions and time was given for discussions and dialogues inside and outside the conference room.

The sessions included Case studies, perspectives and success factors, based on transactions involving private sector participation in electricity projects, an overview of the work of the regional power pools, their membership and current initiatives as well as information on key electricity projects in different regions of Africa. High-level panelists drawn from the public and private sectors also gave insights on solutions, key structural issues to be overcome and success stories.

"The meeting was successful in sensitizing private sector companies to electricity projects which were near financing, and prioritized by regional Power Pools. Participants shared knowledge on a range of issues which affect private sector participation in energy generation and transmission in Africa.  A number of new and important dialogues were started", said Guillaume Grosso, in charge of the conference at the ICA Secretariat.

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