Energy poverty alleviation remains top of the agenda for African Energy Week 2021
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Energy comprises a critical component of social and economic development in which the lack thereof serves as a direct hinderance to economic growth. Despite being arguably the richest continent in terms of natural resources, Africa is also considered the poorest continent in terms of development, attributed to electrification and energy accessibility challenges.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) posits that approximately 620 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity, representing nearly two-thirds of the entire population. Accessibility challenges have been attributed to infrastructure deficits, the lack of critical investment, high-risk or uncertain regulatory environments deterring foreign participation, and the lack of required knowledge and skills to expand the energy and power sectors. Meanwhile, with approximately 656 million people currently living in rural or dispersed locations across Africa, the high cost of providing services to such remote places has only further accentuated the energy crisis.
Despite the number of people without access to electricity gradually decreasing since 2013, the IEA suggests that the COVID-19 crisis is essentially reversing progress made in recent years to increase access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy – an objective that forms part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, of which many African countries have confirmed their commitment. COVID-19 impacts concerning lack of available finance, the shift in priority and government capital to the health sector, and implemented lockdown measures restricting project activity have caused significant disruptions, driving even more people back into energy poverty. The IEA notes that over 30 million people already connected have retreated back into energy poverty at the end of 2020, attributed to affordability challenges. Therefore, there has never been a more critical time to redirect a continent-wide focus on increasing energy accessibility.
African Energy Week (AEW) 2021 comes at a time where drastic action is required in order to accelerate energy developments and electrify Africa. Representing the first and only Africa-focused energy event to take place in Africa in 2021, AEW 2021 will serve as a catalyst that will help transform the African energy space, making energy poverty alleviation a reality by 2030. AEW 2021 has placed making energy poverty history at the top of the agenda, and with universal access requiring approximately USD$ 20 billion of annual investments from 2021 – 2030, through networking and facilitating deals, the event seeks to make this goal a reality.
At the top of the agenda lies the renewable energy sector and the energy transition. With national electricity plans being implemented across the continent, and the widespread redirecting towards renewable power generation alternatives, significant developments have emerged within the solar, wind, and hydroelectric industries. Notably, projects such as the Grand Inga hydroelectric expansion project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Noor Solar Complex in Morocco, and the Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Kenya represent some of Africa’s biggest renewable energy achievements and are significant contributors to alleviating energy poverty across the continent.
Additionally, AEW 2021 promotes the role of natural gas in Africa’s energy transition, recognizing how gas-to-power developments can significantly increase energy access continent wide. Representing an ideal transitionary resource with its lower greenhouse gas emissions, natural gas also acts as a reliable and readily available power generation solution. Accordingly, backed by major discoveries in Mozambique, Ghana, Senegal, and Tanzania, Africa is turning to natural gas to increase energy security and expand access. Projects such as Nigeria’s Kingline Power Project, a 550MW gas-to-power facility expected to provide 4.5 Terawatt hours of secure, affordable energy; the Temane Thermal Power Station, a 450MW gas-fired power plant in Mozambique; and Ghana’s 1,300MW gas-fired power plant all demonstrate the value of gas-to-power.
Therefore, driven by the continent’s significant oil, gas and renewable energy potential, and built against a backdrop of existing project success, AEW 2021 aims to directly address African energy poverty by uniting stakeholders with a common agenda, and facilitating large-scale energy developments and investment across the renewable and natural gas power generation and transmission sectors.
What makes AEW 2021 the ideal energy event to address energy poverty, is its multi-sectoral approach. Unlike other energy conferences which focus on one specific industry, such as oil, AEW 2021 unites multiple sectors from across the entire energy value chain. Accordingly, AEW 2021 believes in integration, collaboration, and partnerships and therefore, presents a platform whereby transformative energy deals will be made, development finance mobilized, and energy poverty alleviated.
The AEC’s focus is clear, establish a platform whereby stakeholders can facilitate productive deals, attract critical foreign capital, and drive African energy sector growth. To take part in Africa’s transformation and to be a key facilitator and contributor to poverty eradication in 2021 and beyond, register now at (https://bit.ly/3xkd2wH) and attend Africa’s premier energy event.
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