We imagine a bright future for Africa. A growing economy, a young thriving population, expanding cities, rising entrepreneurs in start-up businesses, and resource abundance are all promising features that describe a continent of opportunity.
Now more than ever, access to electricity is essential for unlocking Africa’s vast socio-economic potential and improve livelihoods. The United Nations also recognised the role of access to energy as a vital cross-cutting enabler of long-term sustainable development, poverty reduction and climate change mitigation in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (SDG 7) households and economic activities is key to spur growth opportunities, with on-grid and off-grid renewable technologies meant to play the lion role in this effort.
However, despite recent improvements, the current pace of Africa’s electrification process is still too slow, and as the population keeps growing, this might leave hundreds of millions of people still without access in the years to come. Moreover, the poor reliability of power supply is slowing down business activities and hampering positive socio-economic development, while Africa’s reliance on expensive and polluting energy and electricity sources reduces consumers’ uptake and increases Africa’s exposure to natural hazards and climate crisis.
Delivering sustainable, reliable and affordable electricity supply for all requires a massive investment in existing and new electricity infrastructures, notably renewable technologies and electricity networks. However, investments in electricity infrastructures in Africa remains marginal and below the required level: out of the 1.5 TW of renewable energy generation capacity installed worldwide, only 2% was directed to Africa (IEA, World Energy Outlook 2018). Ramping-up investments will be then necessary to bridge the electricity access gap and enable Africa’s sustainable growth.
RES4Africa Foundation supports the private sector role in contributing to delivering Africa’s socio-economic development targets through the expansion of access to sustainable, reliable and affordable electricity. Private sector crowd-in will be key to fill the current investment gap in electricity infrastructures and effectively respond to the pressing demand, without stressing national and public utilities budgets any further. How could this be achieved? How could the private sector help reach SDG7 and become a major effective player in the African electricity landscape? How to scale up the development and uptake of renewable technologies in Africa?
These are the themes and questions that will be addressed in the first chapter of the 2020 edition of RES4Africa Foundation’s Flagship Publication. Starting with the voice of Africans envisioning a dream future for their continent, the first part of the report will pave the way for a discussion on what is needed to get there, promoting action as we embarked on a decade that urgently calls for it.