Powering Africa

Why Africa Needs to Fix it Power Crisis

By Drive Africa Writer

Africa needs to resolve its power crisis if it is to move forward. It is as simple as that. The continent will not achieve long term growth and prosperity without unlocking the power sector. Yes, Africa has made significant gains in the last of couple of decades, even becoming the world’s second fastest growing region. But to sustain that growth and to consolidate its gains there needs to be universal access to energy. Africa needs to decisively address its energy poverty. The statistics are dismal. We have all heard how that Spain’s entire installed capacity is equivalent to that of the entire African continent and that over 600 million people across the continent do not have access to power.

It calls for drastic action, innovation, and steely political resolve. This surely cannot be the time for rhetoric which does not move the needle and deliver results. The continent and its people desperately needs more power plants, grids, solar farms, wind farms, off grid systems-all of it. Of course, there have been a lot initiatives lately which have been designed to address Africa’s energy challenges. Governments, multilateral institutions, development finance institutions, and private sector players are announcing initiatives to boost investments in the sector. And these initiatives are certainly welcome. The African Development Bank has announced its New Deal on Energy. The United Nations has its own United Nations Energy for All Initiative The US government launched the Power Africa Initiative and has recently signed the Electrify Africa act into law. The UK has the Energy Africa initiative. And large scale power projects are being mooted across the continent from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s inga dam to Ethiopia’s grand renaissance dam. Morocco has recently announced the world’s largest solar power plant. These and other projects could position the continent for something of a revolution in the sector. But still the realities on the ground indicate that a lot still needs to be done. Technologies are outmoded, red tape is still rampant, the inefficiencies of state run utilities are still rife , the investment needs are colossal and more will need to be done to de-risk investments in the sector.

There is also need for something of a mindset change about the role that African governments will need to be play. Traditionally governments, though state owned utilities, have run the power sector on the continent operating everything from generation and transmission infrastructurethe whole energy value chain. Many of the state utilities have been characterised with inefficiency, bureaucracy, and bad corporate governance. African governments and their unities need to fundamentally rethink their business model. And there is also growing consensus that the role of the private sector will need to scaled up in the process. At the end of the day, seriousness, unprecedented resolve, and drastic boldness will be needed to fix Africa’s power crisis. And in all of this Africans themselves must own and lead the process