Africa needs to attract funding for energy goals

Wednesday June 21 2017

Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd

Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd power pylons. PHOTO FILE | NATION 

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The World Bank is calling for more investments in the private sector to bridge the gap between “where Africa is and where Africa aspires to be” in terms of energy.

A new report, Linking up: Public-Private Partnerships in Power Transmission in Africa, released by the Bank, shows that Africa lags behind other continents, with two in three Africans — about 600 million people — lacking access to electricity.

“Close to two-thirds of Africa’s population — largely rural and poor — are left out of the service delivery paradigm, with adverse consequences for socioeconomic welfare and economic productivity” the report said.

Generation capacity in sub-Saharan Africa remains at 100GW, roughly one-third of India’s, with a similar population, and an average annual per capita consumption of about 500kWh, one-fifth of the global average.

The report also found that Africa lacks transmission capacity noting that the combined length of transmission in 38 countries in Africa totalling 112,196km, is still shorter than Brazil’s 125,640km network.

Most of the investment in transmission in many African countries is still financed by government-owned companies that rely on funds from the state, development finance institutions and other mega project financiers such as China.

According to the report, average annual spending in the African power sector stands at about $12 billion, way below the continent’s forecast investment needs, necessitating some degree of private financing.

In East Africa, Kenya leads in terms of access to electricity with about 60 per cent of the population connected, while connectivity levels stand at 36 per cent and 27 per cent in Tanzania and Uganda respectively.

East African countries have recently taken measures to ensure energy efficiency and growing investment in renewable sources.