Bridging the Energy Gap: Africa’s Clean Energy Connection Requires US$50bn Investment
Some US$50billion will be required to finance interventions that enable Africa to connect millions of people without access to electricity to affordable and clean energy, as advocated by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, international energy expert Dr. Johnstone Chikwanda has said.
SDG 7 enjoins countries, including those in Africa, to commit to ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
Around the same time, it is also expected that there will be an expansion in infrastructure and upgrading of technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries; in particular least-developed countries, among others.
Given the urgency to connect the African region and bring on board millions of people who are without electricity, Mr. Chikwanda said there is need to consider a novelty financing approach – like an Internet connection levy – to make it realisable.
“If the Western world or perhaps Africa could insert a small levy in the Internet connection or in the mobile telephony communication – as proposed by the late Kofi Annan, within one year or so more than US$50billion could be raised to fund this.
“Other monies have to come from grants and green climate funds; and also note that some bonds can be raised to finance the energy transitions, as well as taxes, direct investments and so on. We are also beginning to see individuals using their own savings, and maybe loan borrowings, to connect themselves to clean energy at the household level,” he said.
This comes as energy experts say Africa is far from realising its global energy commitments, considering the current performance of most countries on the continent – as rural electrification averages 13 percent.
Dr. Chikwanda was speaking as part of the ‘Africa we want series’ organised by PIED Africa, and noted that the consequences of failing to attain SDG 7 will be far-reaching; considering that it will impact attainment of the other sustainable development commitments.
He explained that the SDGs on poverty eradication and economic development are all closely linked to electrification: “Because you cannot organise a modern economy without adequate energy security. It is virtually impossible to deliver quality education services without electricity, especially in an era of ICT being embedded in schools”.
Also, Dr. Chikwanda reckoned that it is impossible to perform well in the SDG on quality health service without electricity.
It is against this background that he advised achieving universal connectivity in Africa requires following the pattern and blueprint that has been rolled out and adopted by the African Union (AU).
This is intended to harmonise all kinds of frameworks in different parts of the African continent.
This is against the backdrop that there exists about 6 regulatory power frameworks across the continent (the Southern African power pool, East African power pool, North African power pool, Central African power pool and West African power pool).
For the energy expert, harmoning these regulatory frameworks in each of the regions and interconnecting them will make it easier to evacuate electricity across from one region to another.
It is believed that a harmonised regulatory framework at the continental and regional levels will facilitate the creation of an African energy market, enhance private sector participation in the energy sector, and mobilise the huge financial and technical resources required to provide modern energy access for all.
The virtual discussion on energy, organised by PIED Africa, was on the theme ‘Africa’s energy transition and how it can be financed’.
The Chairman of Stratek Global in South Africa, Dr. Kelvin Kemm, argued that Africa should explore and harness nuclear power to generate and provide electricity for its people.
“We need to generate an image of stability, and the most important one is electricity. You’ve got to show there will be electricity that runs 24 hours a day.
“We also need things like long railway lines, but the railway lines are linked by electricity. Without the electricity, electric trains don’t run,” he stated.
He observed that the biggest and most stable fuels in the world at the moment are fossil fuels; coal, oil and such-like. These sources of fuel, he maintained, are going to be around for a long time – but recognised that the world is changing.
“The world has changed dramatically in the past year and a half. To my mind, the future for electricity is nuclear power; and we need to start looking right now,” he advocated.