Electricity policies, regulatory frameworks deemed critical in sparking private investment in Africa

A high-level public-private dialogue on private sector investment in electricity and infrastructure development in Africa hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the RES4Africa Foundation infer that African governments need to develop conducive electricity policies and regulatory frameworks to attract private investment.
The meeting which held from March 28-30, 2023, brought together public and private sector stakeholders including policy makers and international organizations in the space of energy and infrastructure to discuss critical policies and regulatory changes that must be made to guarantee African marketplaces with accessibility, appeal, and readiness for private investment. The meeting was held as part of the framework of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in advancing the electricity reform plan through greater public-private interaction.
Acting ECA Executive Secretary, Antonio Pedro, stated that investments in energy and infrastructure will help close the energy access gap and provide economic opportunities for African youth. “Currently, more than 600 million of our people do not have access to electricity and we generate only 4% of the global energy – this has to change,” Antonio emphasized.
For the success of the event, the RES4Africa Foundation and the ECA teamed up to provide African countries with evidence-based national electricity market regulatory reviews and to promote the development of policy and regulatory frameworks that will increase the openness, attractiveness, and readiness of African electricity markets to private investment. The three day event was split into three parts, including high-level legislative discussions on ‘Energy Infrastructure Financing and the Role of the Private Sector, and The Role of Policies and Regulations in Attracting Private Investments in Energy and Infrastructures’. The final section concentrated on, ‘Advancing the African Electricity Reform Agenda and Developing Competitive Electricity Markets in Africa, Transitioning to Economically Competitive Markets, and Ensuring Reliable and Accessible Electricity Systems’.

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

“We recognize the importance of continuing on a low-carbon path, that leverages the immense potential in clean and renewable energy. Ethiopia has invested in developing geothermal, wind, solar and other areas of sustainable energy to deliver on our goals. As we aspire to restructure and develop effective national energy markets, public-private partnerships are essential requirements,” said Sultan Woli, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Energy Development.
“The meeting will enable us to leverage private investment in to the energy sector for more efficiency and electricity, as well as accessibility to the people as generation, transmission and infrastructure are necessary to insure affordability and availability of power,” said Herbert Krapa, Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry.
“Creating a conducive policy and regulatory environment is essential for infrastructure investment, reducing bureaucratic hurdles, simplifying processes, and improving the ease of doing business,” expressed Salvatore Bernabei, President of RES4Africa and CEO of Enel Green Power at the meeting.
Africa’s energy infrastructure is plagued by longstanding underinvestment. In the past decade, the continent received investment of about USD 41 billion in the energy sector. This number is low in absolute terms, and when compared to the rest of the world, represents only 3 percent of global energy investment.
Africa’s Agenda 2063 emphasizes the need for integration as one of the key foundations for ensuring Africa achieves its goals for inclusive and sustainable growth and development. Aspiration 2 of Agenda 2063 places import on the need for Africa to develop world class infrastructure that criss-crosses Africa and which will improve connectivity through newer and bolder initiatives to link the continent by rail, road, sea and air; and developing regional and continental power pools, as well as ICT.
Today’s global energy crisis has underscored the urgency, as well as the benefits, of an accelerated scale-up of cheaper and cleaner sources of energy. Universal access to affordable electricity, achieved by 2030 in the SAS, requires bringing connections to 90 million people a year, triple the rate of recent years. At present, 600 million people, or 43% of the total population, lack access to electricity, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

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