Africa’s energy gap is huge — but it’s also a huge opportunity. Africa can meet its power needs while leading the world in renewable energy, as the Africa Progress Panel (APP) showed in its 2015 report, Power, People, Planet: Seizing Africa’s energy and climate opportunities.
The report’s findings and recommendations sparked a lively and fruitful debate at a special event organised in Geneva on 20 June 2016 by the APP.
A short video message from Kofi Annan, Chair of the APP, set the tone for the evening. “Africa can leapfrog over the damaging energy practices that have brought the world to the brink of catastrophe,” Mr Annan emphasised. “The current generation of African leaders has a unique opportunity to deliver on the promise of energy for all”.
Caroline Kende-Robb, Executive Director of the APP and one of the evening’s panel members, picked up on Mr Annan’s themes in a presentation of the 2015 Africa Progress Report.
A spirited discussion followed, with contributions by the panel members and the audience.
The panel included Dr Youba Sokona (South Centre); His Excellency Mr. Jonathan Mero (Permanent Representative of Tanzania); and His Excellency Mr. Jean-Marie Ehouzou (Permanent Representative of the African Union Commission). The panel was moderated by the APP’s Deputy Director, Max Bankole Jarrett.
It’s crucial to bridge Africa’s energy gap now …
Dr Youba Sokona emphasized that “If we solve energy problems in Africa, 80% of the problems will be solved”.
… but meeting Africa’s huge energy deficit exceeds the capacity of any single African country.
“Why not put our efforts together to realise regional energy programmes?” asked Mr. Jean-Marie Ehouzou.
The private sector must also play a major role.
His Excellency Mr. Jonathan Mero from Tanzania insisted that “Energy is equal to economy and equal to business and therefore we need to put into place the right incentives to attract investors”.
The Ambassador of Ghana added, “I look at the continent very optimistically. Once we get our energy mix right, the continent will begin to see the kind of growth that is expected of us”.
Engaged audience members and viewers.
To ensure that this event reached as wide an audience as possible, it was also streamed live from the APP’s Facebook page which has over 890,000 followers.
After the panel discussion, many audience members and live stream viewers shared their views.
The Ambassador of Mali remarked that there can be no development without energy and that access to energy is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.
A representative from the embassy of Senegal called on African governments to expand access to electricity, especially in schools given that in some African countries more than 80% of primary schools do not have access to electricity, as highlighted in the 2015 Africa Progress Report.
Comments from our Facebook audience focused on the challenges of corrupt governments and on the opportunities ahead given the richness of Africa’s resources.
Overall, participants’ responses to the findings and policy recommendations of the 2015 Africa Progress Report were overwhelmingly positive and engaging.
Many speakers commended the APP’s work, saying that they found relevant insights and useful statistics in the report. They expressed their willingness to see more engagement with the international community in Geneva on behalf of greater access to energy in Africa.