Africa will not fully develop if its people continue to live without electricity, Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Secretary Vera Songwe said on Thursday.
According to Ms. Songwe speaking during the Res4Africa business-to-government high level workshop on accelerating the renewable energy transition in Ethiopia; energy is the key driver of development across the African continent.
“Right now the continent is moving towards the game-changing African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) where collectively we can wield the strength of the African continent better than we can individually by trading more with each other but the AfCFTA requires production which requires energy,” Ms. Songwe said at the workshop.
According to the ECA Chief, as it stands, 48 per cent of Africa’s population still lacks access to electricity and this is projected to remain the same come 2030. This is despite recent efforts by African governments in boosting access to electricity through innovation on the continent. Ms. Songwe therefore believes that more needs to be done for Africa to address its power challenges.
“Africa has to act fast and now to increase the number of people with access to electricity. We have to quadruple our efforts on energy if we are to achieve the sustainable development goals and Agenda 2063. Without energy we cannot have the development that we so yearn for,” she explained.
“We need to enact policies and regulations that can quickly enhance the enabling environment for deployment of renewable energy programmes in Africa and make it easy for the private sector to play its role in helping accelerate the energy transition on the continent,” she added.
On his part, Roberto Vigotti, the Secretary General of Res4Africa, shared the same sentiments as Ms. Songwe and emphasized the importance of accelerating the renewable energy transition not only in Ethiopia but Africa as a whole.
It was stated that lack of sufficient power generation capacity, poor transmission and distribution infrastructure, high costs of supply to remote areas, or simply a lack of affordability for electricity, are among the biggest hurdles affecting Africa’s desire to extend grid-based electricity.