How can we harness business to close the energy gap in Africa?

Power is routinely cited by large and small businesses as the most significant barrier to their success, adding huge costs to them and their customers. Poor infrastructure slows foreign direct investment and limits countries in their attempts to diversify their economies away from primary commodity export.
 
Unreliable or inaccessible power has a cost that goes beyond GDP figures and business growth, impacting on healthcare and education outcomes, which in turn have long-term implications for the future prosperity of individuals and societies.

The International Energy Agency estimates that more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity.  While 950 million people will gain access to electricity in Africa between 2014 and 2040, demographic expansion will mean that 75 per cent of the population will still be without power.

A step-change in investment into electricity generation, distribution and efficiency is needed over the next quarter-century to unlock the potential of Africa’s demographic boom.  This was the focus of a report published recently by Business Fights Poverty and the Initiative for Global Development (Click here to find out more and to download the report here)

Join our panel to discuss the following questions:

1. What is the real, day-to-day impact of Africa’s energy gap?  What are some practical examples of the impacts on the ground?

 

2. What are the opportunities for business to be part of the solution to closing the energy gap?

 

3. What building blocks need to be put in place by governments and other development partners to harness the potential contribution that business can make to closing this gap, and by doing so helping unlock the Continent’s potential?

 

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Looking forward to this discussion tomorrow! In the mean time, check out IGD's works on developing standardized Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in Africa at: http://www.igdleaders.org/programs/electric-power/

Thank you for joining us today for this live written discussion!  We're joined by a great panel to explore how to close Africa's energy gap, and the role of business in helping do this.

Before we start, I'd like to ask our panelists to introduce themselves.

Good afternoon (/morning). I’m Tim McNeill, Private Sector Development Adviser with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), covering Southern Africa.

Thanks Zahid. I’m looking forward to the discussion. I am a journalist working on development in Africa and other emerging markets, and I worked with BFP and its partners on the New Africa 2015 report.

Hello everyone.  I'm Chris Camponovo, Senior Power Adviser at the Initiative for Global Development.  I'm also looking forward to the discussion.

Let's kick off with our first question!

Question 1: What is the real, day-to-day impact of Africa’s energy gap?  What are some practical examples of the impacts on the ground?

Good Afternoon! I am very excited to be joining this panel and I look forward to our conversation.

Hello,

I am Andrew Scott, a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, based in London. My research interests include questions concerned with energy access and the transition to low carbon energy systems.

Eastern Zambia cotton unable to be harvested due to lack of sufficient power to run the ginnery machinery.

Great to have everyone here - including over 130 people from our community.  Please do share you thougths, insights and examples - and of course any additional questions you have for our panelists!

Investment, investment, investment.  If you speak to any investment promotion authority in Africa, they'l tell you that the first question a potential investor asks is about the power situation.  When you have to run auxiliary generators to supplement unreliable power from the grid, it's an extra cost that must be factored into your decision whether or not to  invest in a particular country.  The less reliable grid-provided power is, the less likely you are to invest in a country....

Thanks for sharing that, Thuy!

Thuy Dinh said:

Looking forward to this discussion tomorrow! In the mean time, check out IGD's works on developing standardized Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in Africa at: http://www.igdleaders.org/programs/electric-power/

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