Power Africa Initiative Energy Developments

Momentum gathers in Power Africa initiative on BiztechAfrica

Standard Bank Group has renewed its commitment to the Power Africa Initiative, a multi-stakeholder project driven by US President Barack Obama. The Initiative aims to double power access in Africa by accelerating investments in the sector over the next five years.

The six initial partner countries are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania. Each have set ambitious goals to boost their power generating capacity to enhance energy security, decrease poverty and foster economic growth. According to Sim Tshabalala, Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group, funding for power projects has increased from $150 million to over $400 million since 2013, and the pipeline for these projects is growing.

Besides helping finance projects under the Power Africa initiative, Standard Bank is actively leading the policy reform process required to facilitate increased private investment in Africa’s power sector.

Africa’s growing energy needs test climate change policies by Zack Colman on Washington Examiner

Businesses, lawmakers, heads of state and policy experts all have different solutions to Africa’s energy needs, but they all boil down to the idea that Africa needs a little bit of everything. “We have to invest in energy. Cheap energy,” stated Amara Konneh, Liberia Finance Minister at the United States-Africa Business Forum on Tuesday. In order to meet energy needs, some of the electricity will come from fossil fuels, such as natural gas. Some could also be generated through renewable sources such as hydropower, biomass and solar.

Energy efficiency will also need to play a key role. As African nations continue to grow and demand more electricity, the “all of the above” approach to energy will make it harder to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

The IEA predicts that Africa will invest $176 billion in fossil fuel-fired power through 2035 ($114 billion of which will be coal-based) compared to the $28 billion of investment between 2000 and 2013. Renewable energy investment will attract even greater investment, predicted to hit $264 billion in investment over the same period.

Doug McMillion, president of Walmart, said that African nations could be where new technologies leap frog older ones, stating, “In Africa, it just seems that there’s a place for investments to accelerate this process, to do some generation skipping.” This means that rather than starting nascent infrastructure projects with the same varieties industrial and post-industrial nations began with, the continent could start from a different point.

Obama announces more investment in Africa by U.S. firms during leaders’ summit by Juliet Eilperin and Katie Zezime on Washington Post

President Obama announced Tuesday that private companies are providing an additional $12 billion in aid to the administration’s electrification program for Africa, raising total commitments to the Power Africa Initiative to $26 billion. The Initiative is aiming to add 30,000 Mw of capacity and expand electricity to 60 million households and businesses.

The continent has seen significant economic growth and business opportunities are growing yet adequate power supply remains the biggest obstacle to furthering economic development. More than 70 percent of Africans lack reliable electricity supply and power outages cost more than 5 percent of GDP in Malawi, Uganda and South Africa.

The administration has earmarked $1 billion of the program’s funds for off-grid and small-scale energy solutions over the next five years, which are overwhelmingly renewable.  In a little more than a year since Obama launched Power Africa, the initiative has purred signed agreements that will generate 2,800 Mw of electricity with deals for an additional 5,000 Mw in negotiation. On the subject of the recent substantial commitments to the initiative, Obama said, “Today we’re raising the bar.”

Power Africa – A Successful Year But Only a Beginning by Paul Hinks on AllAfrica

Just over a year ago, Power Africa was announced and President Obama promised to bring electricity to 20 million new homes and businesses and to double access to electricity in Africa.  At the time he said, “in order for this to work, then we all have to feel a sense of urgency…if we are going to electrify Africa, we’ve got to do it with more speed”. According to Hinks, CEO of Symbion Power LLC, this is what will define the future of Power Africa. It is important to reduce timelines so that more generation capacity is available and more transmission and distribution lines are constructed. The demand for energy in Africa won’t be easily satisfied because as power becomes available, the demand for it will continue to grow each year. The time has come for African governments to create new power infrastructure and to embrace the private sector to boost energy investment.

The time has also come for the U.S. government agency involved in the Power Africa initiative to match their processes and systems to President Obama’s call for urgency. Despite early Power Africa successes, much remains to be done. The six Power Africa governments must make the necessary policy and systematic changes to accelerate the availability of power. The United States must also push to pass the Electrify Africa and Energize Africa Acts to deliver on the Power Africa promises made a year ago.

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