Forthcoming Africa energy meet to focus on finding solutions for continent’s power woes

Over 600 million people in Africa do not have access to modern energy, and households with less income are spending 20 times the amount spent by high-income earners on energy.
Technicians install a solar system. Government targets 22% off-grid connections by end of next year. / File
Technicians install a solar system. Government targets 22% off-grid connections by end of next year. / File

Over 600 million people in Africa do not have access to modern energy, and households with less income are spending 20 times the amount spent by high-income earners on energy. This scenerio, according to energy experts, highlights the current inefficiency of Africa’s energy sector and calls for various interventions to address it.

This and other sector issues will be the focus of the forthcoming Africa Energy Forum (AEF) in June. The forum seeks to find solutions to energy issues affecting the continent.

“The Africa Energy Forum focuses primarily on large scale power projects, supporting the public and private sectors to get projects off the ground and connected to the grid.

However, given that 600 million people live without access to basic energy in Africa, increasingly investors are looking off-grid to the areas not serviced by national grids taken for granted in developing countries,” Simon Gosling, the managing director of Energy Net, said in a statement.

To address this demand, this year’s forum will have an Off the Grid Village area as a destination and networking hub for the energy access and off-grid community, he said.

The annual conference, scheduled for June 7-9 in Copenhagen, Denmark, brings together Africa’s energy sector decision-makers to explore investment opportunities, form partnerships and sign deals, according to a press release from Energy Net, which is organising the event. The forum will welcome 2,000 decision-makers in Africa’s energy sector, including ministers, according to the organisers.

Low access to power

According to Africa Progress Report for 2015, “Power people planet, seizing Africa’s energy and climate opportunities,” the continent’s energy challenge is substantial, with two in every three people or a total 621 million people having no access to electricity.

The report also stated that, excluding South Africa, consumption averages in Africa is around 162 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per capita per year, which is far below the global average of 7,000 kWh.

Energy sector investment lacking

The report shows that investment of $55 billion per year is needed until 2030 to meet demand and achieve universal access to electricity, representing 3.4 per cent of Africa’s GDP in 2013 against the current energy-sector investment levels estimated at $8 billion a year, or 0.49 per cent of Africa’s gross domestic product.

Rwanda’s power targets

According to figures from Rwanda’s Ministry of Infrastructure, electricity access increased by three times from 9 per cent in 2010 to 30.9 per cent in January 2017, with 27.9 per cent on-grid and 3 per cent off-grid.

According to the ministry, over the last seven years, more efforts in the energy sector have been directed towards diversified and balanced power production and supply to meet national targets. As a result, electricity generation capacity has increased almost three-fold from 76MW in 2010 to 208MW in January 2017.

Rwanda targets to have power generation capacity of 563 megawatts and connect 70 per cent of its households to electricity by 2018.

In March this year, the Minister for Infrastructure, James Musoni told The New Times that the ministry developed the Rural Electrification Strategy that was approved by Cabinet in April, 2016 with key underlying principle of Government in partnership with private sector to establish a mechanism for households to access modern energy services like solar power, and continue to roll out the electricity network focusing on connecting high consumption users.

“The first stage of off-grid development is underway with more than 18 companies licensed to connect 530,000 households or 22 per cent off-grid access by June 2018,” he said.

Talking about projects in the pipeline, the Minister said, there is Gisagara peat to power project expected to generate 80MW by 2019, and the regional Rusomo hydropower project shared by Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi, is expected to generate 80MW.

It is due for completion by 2020 and the power generated will be equally shared among the three countries.

Another regional project under development is the 147MW Rusizi III hydropower project to be shared equally between Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo. The project agreements are expected to be signed by May 2017 and construction works will commence this year and end in 2022.

AEF 2017

African Ministries from the DR Congo, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Madagascar, Morocco, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have confirmed to attend the forum, organisers said.

 

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