MRP 2018 Webinar: Africa’s Energy Landscape: Prospects, Status and Challenges

Speaker: Dr. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, UN Environment Director and Regional Representative for Africa

One of the challenges which Africa faces is significant growth in population and this poses a serious obstacle to economic and human development in most parts of the continent. The population growth comes with high energy demands and calls for a better performing energy sector. 600 million people do not have access to electricity. Modern energy services are lacking, especially in rural areas. Energy supply is clearly not meeting the needs of the people. There is also a problem of affordability. Power companies in Africa are still struggling to produce electricity at a price that people can afford. Moreover, the high costs involved in bringing electricity to people in the rural regions while maintaining profitability, poses a major barrier.

One of the challenges which Africa faces is significant growth in population and this poses a serious obstacle to economic and human development in most parts of the continent. The population growth comes with high energy demands and calls for a better performing energy sector. 600 million people do not have access to electricity. Modern energy services are lacking, especially in rural areas. Energy supply is clearly not meeting the needs of the people. There is also a problem of affordability. Power companies in Africa are still struggling to produce electricity at a price that people can afford. Moreover, the high costs involved in bringing electricity to people in the rural regions while maintaining profitability, poses a major barrier.

Along with these challenges, there are a lot of opportunities and huge potential still untapped. The continent has vast and diversified renewable energy resources: 1,850 terawatt hours per year of hydropower, more than 120 terawatt hours per year of geothermal, 1,55000 – 170,000 terawatt hours per year of solar; Biomass 3-13.6 Exajoules. In addition to international donor partners and financing mechanisms, various global and continental initiatives exist which create opportunities for growth. Some examples include – African Development Fund, Sustainable Energy for All, Large Program of Infrastructure Development for Africa spearheaded by the African Union Commission, African Renewable Energy Initiative, Power Africa, etc.

To maximize energy production for utilization in Africa, governments cannot achieve this alone; the private sector needs to be brought on board. For this to happen, policies need to be harmonized to create an enabling environment. For instance, to take advantage of productive use of energy in the agricultural sector, the policy frameworks have to reconcile the industry policies, energy policies, land policies and private investment policies. The political will of the government is absolutely essential to mitigate the risks for the private sector and ganer more of their involvement.

Another critical requirement is for Africa to develop business models and financing which would attract investments. Given the link between energy, global security and climate change, there is a need for governments and organizations to form partnerships and work together. Finally, institutional transformation is needed to shift the focus from policy discuss to proper implementation.

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