Financing ‘is key to turning on the power in Africa’

25 Mar 19

Financing mechanisms must be transformed to help 600 million Africans who still lack access to electricity, energy leaders have been told.

New funding instruments to boost ‘off-grid’ and ‘mini-grid’ connectivity using renewable energy sources are a priority, the 5th Energy Access Investment Forum heard.

The gathering in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, was supported by the African Development Bank which has created a $500 million debt financing facility for small renewable energy projects.

“Meeting the universal electricity access objective within the next decade will require the roll-out of off-grid and mini-grid solutions at scale,” said Daniel Schroth, the ADB’s acting director of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Despite Africa’s significant energy resources, hundreds of millions of million people are still without access to electricity because of inadequate investment in the sector.

Mahama Kappiah, executive director of the economic community of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, said that poor project management was a major barrier to private investment.

“The money is not the problem. The way projects in the energy sector are prepared for financing is the problem,” he said.

“We need to address the institutional and regulatory issues in the energy sector so that Africa can attract more private investments.”

Joao Cunha, manager of the ADB’s renewable energy initiatives division, said “de-risking investment” was the key to attracting financing into the sector.

“The African Development Bank has been a strong supporter of Africa’s energy sector. It’s a top priority,” he said.

“We can see that the sector is evolving as decentralised energy systems are fast expanding with the proliferation of off-grid technologies.”

  • Julia Walker, Alma Pekmezovic and Gordon Walker

    Julia Walker, Alma Pekmezovic and Gordon Walker are editiors of 'Sustainable Development Goals: harnessing business to achieve the SDGs through finance, technology and law reform'.

    Walker is a senior global business executive with 20 years experience in the private sector principally in finance, technology, and risk management.
    Pekmezovic is a consultant to the Asian Development Bank, Sydney, Australia.
    Walker is an emeritus professor of La Trobe University.

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