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Closing energy gap in Africa will result in 30% higher economic output by 2040

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland – The energy gap in Africa looms large if the continent is to permanently escape the poverty trap.

More than 600 million people in Africa lack access to clean, affordable, reliable energy. It is time for empower people by delivering power to the people, agreed panellists in a session on the opening day of the 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

The future of energy across the African continent depends on increased private investment in power generation.

In the past, we’ve relied on governments to power our countries; we now need to bring in the private sector to help empower our economies and people,” said Cyril M. Ramaphosa, Deputy President of South Africa. Closing the energy gap on the African continent will result in 30% higher economic growth by 2040.

We’re tired of seeing Africa in the dark,” said Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). The AfDB is helping address structural problems involving the lack of base-load power by investing $12 billion on the power sector over five years. In particular, the last mile is a key focus in terms of energy distribution. We need to learn from what’s working and scale it up, he added.

Indeed, elections in Africa will increasingly hinge on energy reforms. The message to African leaders: if you want to stay in power, deliver power.

The good news is that it is technologically feasible to provide affordable, reliable, clean power to people who haven’t had access to power before,” said Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer, United Nations – Sustainable Energy for All. Africa is the crucible of innovation in providing off-grid solutions, she added.

However, financing models also need innovation, said Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive, Dangote Industries, Nigeria. “Issues such as high interest rates and unstable currencies make it difficult for private-sector funding to flow,” he added.

The 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is currently underway in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, under the theme Responsive and Responsible Leadership. More than 3,000 participants from nearly 100 countries will participate in over 400 sessions and the event will end on 20 January.

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SADC Correspondent

SADC correspondents are independent contributors whose work covers regional issues of southern Africa outside the immediate Namibian ambit. Ed.