The challenges faced in powering Africa is unlike anything experienced before in any sector, anywhere in the world and strong leadership is needed to overcome these challenges.
With the bulk of Africa’s growing population still without electricity – 700-million of its 1.1-billion population have no access to electricity and only 24% having access to some electricity – the continent’s level of consumption was only one-fifth of the global electricity consumption average, said Quantum Power founding partner Dr Louis van Pletsen.
Speaking at the African Energy Indaba, in Sandton, on Tuesday, he argued that deploying electricity infrastructure across the vast continent was no small task.
Africa was unlikely to light up its many remote rural regions anytime soon, owing to the time-intensive task and complexity of deploying infrastructure across such a large span of land.
Further, while there was no doubt that there was a significant, profitable and sustainable opportunity to bring electricity to Africa, strong leadership was needed to find ways of resolving the energy challenges.
Van Pletsen argued during a panel session that African countries needed to develop and implement a framework to enable entrepreneurs to absorb the skills required to deliver energy projects.
There should be no shame in recruiting international assistance and establishing skills transfer programmes to equip Africa’s youth with the required skills in the future, he said.
Abengoa Solar Power South African country manager Julian Lopez Garrido, meanwhile, urged the private sector and government to set aside their fears of partnering with each other and with international companies.
He pointed to South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which was based on the lessons learnt internationally.