Africa is the continent of opportunity for the serious energy investor. There is ample choice for the discerning entrepreneur with vast natural energy resources ranging from coal, gas, hydro, solar, wind and geothermal. Access to electricity means access to opportunity and the chance for Africa to reach its economic potential. With an increasing number of urbanising youth and above average growth rates, Africa’s middle classes are ready to exercise their buying power. However, with almost two-thirds of the continent still in virtual darkness, opportunities have remained out of reach; millions of people simply do not have the power to enjoy the basic activities that will improve their living standards – healthcare, education, commerce and industry.

During the opening of the Energy Indaba Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. Prof Mosad Elmissiry, NEPAD Agency’s Senior Energy Advisor, emphasised the importance of regional and continental perspectives, and how regional integration provides an effective approach for achieving Africa’s energy access target and providing resilience to climate change.

Regional integration and energy trade are not new to Africa. They date back to 1950 when a bilateral agreement was signed between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia on the construction of 500 kV DC line between the two countries. Country interconnections continued to grow until 1995 when nine countries in the Southern Africa region got connected together, forming what is known the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) – through the establishment of the first energy trade market in Africa. SAPP’s successful approach ignited other regional power pools to take shape, such as the West African Power Pool, the Eastern Africa Power Pool, the Central Africa Power Pool and the Comité Maghrebin de l’Electricité.

Africa’s power vision sets an energy access target of 80 percent for domestic users and 90 percent for industries by 2040. The continent came up with a strategy for achieving these targets based on a regional approach anchored on the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Energy Infrastructure Programme. The programme has a detailed energy plan which extends to 2040 with short, medium and long term project implementation plans covering the whole continent.

Progress made in some of the PIDA projects with regards energy include: The Kaleta Power generation in Guinea that is now completed; Sambangalou in Senegal and Ruzizi hydroelectric Power Stations in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are in the final state of financial closure; The Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya interconnector, with the Kenya -Tanzania section now under construction, and Tanzania-Zambia section with completed feasibility and environmental assessment studies; The Batoka hydro project in Zambia and Zimbabwe have completed feasibility studies and are in the finance raising stage, and; The Inga III hydro project in the Democratic Republic of Congo is to complete the remaining complementary feasibility studies and its environmental assessment.

With regards, renewable energy, NEPAD Agency launched the Renewable Energy Access Programme in November 2017, which targets country priority renewable energy projects. A total of 33 renewable energy projects were received, some of which received assistance in 2017, for example the Gambia 6 MW project and Madagascar solar project.

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