Energy Africa campaign launched to improve continent’s power infrastructure

23 Oct 15

The UK Department for International Development has announced a programme to expand the use of solar power across Africa as part of efforts to reduce the estimated 600 million people who have no access to electricity.

The Energy Africa campaign, launched yesterday by UK international development minister Grant Shapps, aims to help the continent achieve universal energy access by 2030. DFID has estimated that, if progress to provide power across the continent continued on the current trajectory, it would take an additional 50 years meet this target.

In partnership with African governments, investors, businesses, non-governmental organisations and other donors, DFID will work to increase investment in off-grid energy, as well as tackling regulatory barriers and accelerating delivery of solar energy to households.

DFID said addressing financial hurdles and market failures that have prevented firms from raising capital would encourage investment and growth in the solar market.

“I have seen for myself how people’s lives can be transformed with the installation of a simple solar panel system,” Shapps said.

“[The campaign] has the power to help millions of Africans out of poverty and transform the prospects of an entire continent.”

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, said: “This campaign addresses one of the great injustices of the 21st century ‒ an injustice that robs millions of our fellow citizens of the dignity, opportunity and freedom that comes with access to modern energy.”

A total of 14 African nations have been identified for partnerships and a number of existing projects earmarked for financial support, including the Renewable Energy and Adaption to Climate Technologies elements of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund.

The Energy Africa is intended to help achieve the UN sustainable development goal of providing affordable and clean energy.

It is estimated that 70% of Africa’s population currently live without electricity, and half of businesses in sub-Saharan Africa view a lack of electricity as a major constraint. Power outages cost countries in the region between 1% and 2% of the gross domestic product every year. 

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