Breakout Session 7

Managing and Financing Energy Infrastructure

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Public-private partnerships are essential in closing Africa’s power gap

Breakout Session 7 Papers:

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Power is the key

Summary of paper: ‘Propelling Africa’s Energy System Forward for Economic Transformation’ by Joe Amoako-Tuffour and Maame Esi Eshun (ACET)

Over half of Africa’s population lacks access to basic electricity and clean cooking facilities, and the numbers are rising with population growth and urbanization. For most of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), electricity generation is limited and often relies on a single source, which in most cases is nonrenewable. A significant amount of what is generated is often lost in transmission and distribution.

Access does not always guarantee availability; erratic blackouts and load shedding means businesses must rely on diesel powered generators, which alone increases the cost of doing business. And the climate impacts of most current energy sources and use are judged most severe in SSA compared to other regions of the world.

Therefore, tackling Africa’s energy problems is a central part of economic transformation if the vision of the ‘Africa We Want’ (Agenda 2063), among other continental development initiatives, is to be realized.

The paper mentioned above seeks to open up the landscape for broad-based discussion over the constraints of availability, access and sustainability of power sector, about how to accelerate positive action and about the scope of public policy.

The good news is that Africa is beginning to see a real momentum towards closing Africa’s power gap. This involves several region-wide initiatives including: The UN’s Sustainable Energy for All Africa (hosted by the African Development Bank), Power Africa (2013) coordinated by USAID, African Development Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa (2015), UK’s Energy Africa Campaign (2015), the EU’s Electricity Financing Initiative (2016), and the African Energy Leaders Group.

These initiatives set out to improve access to electricity across SSA while minimizing the carbon footprints of fossil fuel dependency. The primary focus is on the rural populations who least can afford full cost recovery pricing of grid electricity consumption.

Creating an effective, accessible and sustainable energy environment in Africa requires significant investments. The initiatives outlined above complement each other by attracting and making available the needed investments into the power sector – particularly in scaling up off-grid roll-out programs and recourse to renewable sources of energy.

There is a clear emphasis on publicprivate partnerships as key instruments in both closing the power gap and building the capacity to evolve into renewable technologies. Privatization, innovative public-private partnerships and how to accelerate regional power plans are recurring themes. All deserve attention.


  • Is privatization the solution to Africa’s energy problems?
  • If public action is required, what should be the scope of publicprivate partnership?
  • What ought to be the role of government in shaping the future of Africa’s power sector?
  • Should there be some minimum threshold of government in shaping the future of Africa’s power sector?
  • Are regional power pools the best strategy to addressing Africa’s energy challenges?
  • What role should regional and continental development banks play?

Breakout Session 7 Papers:

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ATF2016 Breakout Sessions

Youth Skills & Employment
Promoting Financial Inclusion
Facilitating Trade and Regional Integration
Transforming Agriculture
Seizing New Opportunities in Manufacturing
Managing Extractives for Transformation
Managing and Financing Energy Infrastructure

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