Increased off-grid and mini-grid investments could solve Africa’s electricity crisis, says Annan report
African governments and their partners need to move faster to bridge the continent’s huge energy gap. That means adopting every available solution, on and off the grid, according to a new report from Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel.
The report, Lights Power Action: Electrifying Africa, is launched today at the African Development Bank headquarters in Abidjan. It calls for a significant boost in investment in a range of solutions that can solve Africa’s energy crisis as quickly as possible.
Lights Power Action underlines that the 620 million Africans without access to electricity cannot wait for grid expansion. Grid-connected megaprojects such as large dams and power pools are essential to scale up national and regional energy generation and transmission, but they are slow and expensive. Governments must also increase investment in off-grid and mini-grid solutions, which are cheaper and quicker to install.
“What we are advocating is for African governments to harness every available option, in as cost-effective and technologically efficient a manner as possible, so that everyone is included and no one is left behind” said Kofi Annan, chair of the Africa Progress Panel.
Of the 315 million people who will gain access to electricity in Africa’s rural areas by 2040, it is estimated that only 30 per cent will be connected to national grids. Most will be powered by off-grid household or mini-grid systems.
Lights Power Action is an in-depth follow up to the influential 2015 Africa Progress Report, Power People Planet: Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities. It urges governments to put in place the incentives needed to encourage greater investment in off-grid and mini-grid systems, protect consumers, and facilitate demand among disadvantaged groups.
More than that, governments need to foster an environment in which companies can enter energy generation, transmission and distribution markets, climb the value chain, and build the investment partnerships that can drive growth and create jobs.
“Traditional approaches to extending the grid are no longer viable as the main option for African countries”, Mr. Annan said. “They will take too long and will not meet the needs of our growing economies and societies. Instead, governments and their partners need to seize the opportunity to re-imagine their energy futures”.
The report describes the kinds of policies and investments needed to support the ambitious new public and private initiatives now under way that aim to increase energy access swiftly across Africa, especially the New Deal on Energy for Africa, spearheaded by the African Development Bank.
“As our new report shows, where there is good leadership, there are excellent prospects for energy transition,” Mr. Annan said. “We know what is needed to reduce and ultimately eliminate Africa’s energy deficit. Now we must focus on implementation. The time for excuses is over. It’s time for action”.