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Energy Acess Africa is a long-standing project of the World Economic Forum, and along with other initiatives such as the Africa Skills Initiative, global players are recognising the challenges that face Africa's energy sector

131217 Z GJ424 008 small(Image source: NY Air National Guard/Tech Sgt Michael OHalloran)

Modern, affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is critical for economic growth in Africa.  Over 645 million Africans have no access to electricity, an overall access rate of just over 40 per cent.  

Since COP21 there has been considerable momentum on the issue.  Stakeholders have launched various initiatives, for example the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, led by Bill Gates and other high-net-worth individuals, and the Mission Innovation, whose signatory governments have committed to doubling their allocations to clean energy research.  New clean energy technologies would both expand energy access and contribute to decarbonisation.  

The World Economic Forum have recognised transformative challenges as annual growth rates are at 5 per cent. It says that the continent’s positive outlook is threatened by high unemployment, particularly among youth, rising inequality, and potential ensuing social instability. 

The Africa Skills Initiative connects business, government, civil society, and education and training providers, in their joint goal of creating jobs and building up skilled workforce. Through analysis of the current situation, projected future demands, and the pooling of best practices, the initiative supports involved stakeholders in identifying opportunities for solutions.

In addition, the Africa Development Bank 2016 annual meeting’s theme was  “Energy and Climate Change”, and it launched an energy resource/technology neutral platform for coordinated action amongst private and public partners and for innovative financing.   At the Forum's Africa Regional Business Council Institutional Session on Energy at AF16, we heard the message from participants that further action is needed.  Thus while we see considerable momentum around this issue, we need to understand where are there are opportunities to overcome obstacles and enable universal electricity access through public-private collaboration.