Close Africa’s Energy Gap to Increase Economic Growth by 30% by 2040

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  • With more than half of the continent’s population still without access to electricity, Africa cannot fully participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • Private sector needs to increase their investment and governments must foster innovative financial models and enact structural reforms
  • Africa is the crucible of innovation for off-grid solutions
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17 January 2017, Davos-Klosters, Switzerland – The energy gap in Africa looms large if the continent is to permanently escape the poverty trap. More than 600 million people in Africa lack access to clean, affordable, reliable energy. It is time for empower people by delivering power to the people, agreed panellists in a session on the opening day of the 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

The future of energy across the African continent depends on increased private investment in power generation. “In the past, we’ve relied on governments to power our countries; we now need to bring in the private sector to help empower our economies and people,” said Cyril M. Ramaphosa, Deputy President of South Africa. Closing the energy gap on the African continent will result in 30% higher economic growth by 2040.

“We’re tired of seeing Africa in the dark,” said Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). The AfDB is helping address structural problems involving the lack of base-load power by investing $12 billion on the power sector over five years. In particular, the last mile is a key focus in terms of energy distribution. We need to learn from what’s working and scale it up, he added.

Indeed, elections in Africa will increasingly hinge on energy reforms. The message to African leaders: if you want to stay in power, deliver power.

“The good news is that it is technologically feasible to provide affordable, reliable, clean power to people who haven’t had access to power before,” said Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer, United Nations – Sustainable Energy for All. Africa is the crucible of innovation in providing off-grid solutions, she added.

However, financing models also need innovation, said Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive, Dangote Industries, Nigeria. “Issues such as high interest rates and unstable currencies make it difficult for private-sector funding to flow,” he added.

The 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is taking place on 17-20 January in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, under the theme Responsive and Responsible Leadership. More than 3,000 participants from nearly 100 countries will participate in over 400 sessions.

The Co-Chairs taking a principal role in shaping the discussion at the meeting are:
Frans van Houten, President and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Philips, Netherlands
Brian Moynihan, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of America Corporation, USA
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Documentary Filmmaker, SOC Films, Pakistan
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children International, United Kingdom
Meg Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, USA

The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. (