A timely regulatory overhaul of Africa’s fledgling electricity sector can attract private sector investment and ensure energy security on the continent.
More than 600 million Africans have no access to electricity and Africa generates only 4% of the global energy. Despite vast opportunities in the development of the electricity sector in the continent, there is low private sector investment in energy infrastructure and service delivery. This was the highlight during a two-day public-private dialogue on private sector investment in electricity and infrastructure development in Africa that was recently organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the RES4Africa Foundation.
According to Yohannes Hailu, an energy policy expert at ECA private sector development and finance division, advancing electricity market regulatory improvement and reform is a significant part of the solution towards “de-risking investment” in Africa’s energy infrastructure.
Mr. Hailu emphasized that credible regulatory framework and policy are key instruments for member countries striving to invest private capital in electricity markets through generation, transmission, distribution, and off-grid system development.
During the forum, representatives from Ministries of Energy and Regional Energy Regulatory institutions provided feedback on regulatory areas for technical cooperation with ECA and the RES4Africa Foundation. Areas of regulatory technical cooperation including green hydrogen, storage of batteries, standardization of contracts, development of grid codes and risk-mapping were also identified. Possibilities of developing a regional framework for private sector participation in electricity markets were also discussed.
According to Mr. Andrea Renzulli, head of policy and regulation at RES4Africa, collaboration with the ECA in raising awareness and sharing knowledge on the electricity reform agenda across African markets is a step in the right direction. He acknowledged the importance of continued exchanges of knowledge between energy regulatory authorities across the Continent and the private sector.
Officer-in-charge of the private sector development and financed division at the ECA Robert Lisinge said that an enabling environment is essential to meeting the major investment needs for national and regional infrastructure in Africa through public private sector partnerships.
“Our aim at ECA is to stay close to the continental, regional and national infrastructure agenda guided by Agenda 2063 and SDGs,” said Mr. Lisinge.