Energy and development experts from across Africa and beyond have called for renewed urgency in the drive to light up and power the continent. With close to 600 million Africans still lacking electricity, they argue that Africa's power deficit must be considered both a crisis and an opportunity to fast-track reforms and transactions.
"We must show a greater sense of urgency because what is at stake is the global relevance, social progress and economic productivity of Africa's nearly 1 billion people," urged Amadou Hott, Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth at the African Development Bank.
"Children are growing up without electricity. Energy powers economies and every delay in power project execution keep our people in darkness…Projects need to be implemented effectively so that people get power, and investors get risk-adjusted returns and consumers can pay affordable prices for their power supplies," Hott said.
Energy sector stakeholders from Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Zambia met on 5-6 July in the Ivorian capital for the inaugural meeting of the Africa Energy Marketplace, an African Development Bank initiative.
Representatives of the ministries of energy and finance, heads of utilities, regulators, renewable energy and rural electrification agencies, private sector representatives and development partners presented and discussed current and future reform and financing plans for their countries. Participants produced time-bound action plans to accelerate energy sector reforms and project execution. The scope of their discussions targeted up to 200 projects at various completion stages, with an estimated total investment value exceeding $50 billion.
For Côte d'Ivoire, key recommendations proposed for the next two to three years include tax holidays and tariff rebates for solar equipment makers and importers. The country is also looking at establishing a phased program of environmental impact assessments and collaborating with development partners to strengthen the financial viability of the power sector.
The heart of Ethiopia's action plan includes capital mobilization for capacity building and reforms in its Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity; developing off-grid energy solutions, and measures to mitigate currency risks. Ethiopia is also looking to ratify the New York Arbitration Convention to fulfill international lender's bankability requirements.
As part of its future energy plans, Nigeria will assess its gas-to-power value chain and develop robust franchising regulations for mini-grid systems in under-served areas as part of its nation-wide integrated multi-modal electricity generation and distribution system. The African Development Bank and other development partners are currently providing technical assistance on capacity building, data collection, and verification to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
Zambia plans to create an off-grid working group to improve stakeholder communications and coordination in the domestic off-grid market. The African Energy Marketplace is also promoting South-South economic cooperation and knowledge exchange. Zambia's partnership with Egypt's Ministry of Electricity and Energy, for example, will develop soft and hard infrastructure services related to renewable energy programs, laboratory testing, training, and capacity building.
The Africa Energy Marketplace will be a regular platform for industry stakeholders and development partners to review and harmonize their commitments, inputs and ongoing contributions to Africa's energy sector agenda.
Energy is at the heart of the Bank's economic transformation agenda. With over US$12 billion of investment commitments to the sector between 2016 and 2020, the Bank expects to leverage between US$45 billion and US$50 billion in co-financing for energy projects in Africa during the period.