Africa needs to fix its energy problems for sustainable growth: Songwe

vera songwe 330x245Africa needs to create adequate infrastructure to provide energy access to its people to accelerate and sustain economic growth, said Vera Songwe, executive secretary of Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) during the 12th African Economic Conference (AEC), held in Addis Ababa from 4-6 December 2017

According to Songwe, under developed energy infrastructure and growing demand could help attract more private sector investment and accelerate energy development across the continent.

“For this, we need to improve the governance processes for contracts awards, and licensing to ensure populations get affordable prices, improve the governance of energy utilities, most of which are underperforming and most of all, improve the governance of our regional power pool institutions,” she said.

More than 600mn people do not have access to energy in Africa. Sub Saharan Africa, according to a recent report, has only 300,000km of power lines compared to more than 10mn in the European Union (EU). Songwe said this is hampering the continent to reach economic prosperity compared to other developed nations.

Commenting abut the continent’s potential for energy access, she said that with Africa’s major hydro resources, the continent could produce more than 283 GW of energy and ensure its population has access to energy.

She has also estimated the financing needs of Africa for economic development. According to her, around US$93bn per year need to finance the infrastructure gap, about US$60bn or more to finance the SDGs, US$50bn annually to meet the cost of climate adaptation and US$25bn to achieve universal access to energy.

Songwe also spoke about the perverse effects of illicit financial flows on African economies, which, she said, continue to reduce the continent’s ability to make investments needed in education, health, science, technology and infrastructure to achieve its goal of industrialisation.

“As such, strengthening the institutional architecture designed to tackle these flows must be a priority for the continent,” she concluded.

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