Stakeholders including the Group Chief Executive Officer, Oando Plc, Mr. Adewale Tinubu, have highlighted the need for Nigeria and other African countries to urgently address the energy crisis plaguing the continent.
Tinubu described Africa as “potentially the largest power market in the world,” based on available resources and demand for electricity, according to a statement signed by the Manager, Oando Plc, Mrs. Alero Balogun.
The statement said that Africa’s power sector was one of the key issues discussed at the World Economic Forum on Africa, held recently in Kigali, Rwanda.
Tinubu said, “We are losing a wonderful opportunity to leapfrog out of poverty by not having a more sustainable or robust energy policy.
“I think without a doubt, the biggest challenge we have to economic growth is really our poor consumption of energy, and invariably our very expensive consumption of energy. We are never going to become an exporting continent until we lower our cost of energy and we take advantage of these different [energy] sources.”
He said although there had been some momentum in developing power projects in recent years, sub-Saharan Africa still has a long way to go with hundreds of millions of people not having access to grid-connected electricity.
According to Tinubu, the private sector can play a significant role in power generation only if there is a friendly business environment.
Citing an example, he said Nigeria had become reliant on private diesel generators, which he said were pricier to operate compared to industrial power.
The Oando boss said, “What was missing was having an enabling environment, which the government has finally realised and has privatised the power system, liberalised tariffs and in the process we are now seeing the private sector getting involved in building new power plants, and we are now attracting global capital.
“The difference is that power is now seen as a business opportunity for investors to make a return. People now have access to cheaper power than when the government was subsidising and [was] unable to meet that demand,” Tinubu said.
He suggested that more regional mega-projects should be developed across the continent.
The Chief Executive Officer, BioTherm Energy, a Southern Africa-focused investor in energy projects, Jasandra Nyker, was quoted to have called for a greater sense of urgency in developing projects.
“When I talk sense of urgency I see [projects] needing to happen in the next two to three years. In my company, we [moved] from site identification to providing power to the grid, it took us 36 months and we did that twice. So if a small company like mine can do that, I think more and more players out there can actually do it.”
“There is a lot of complexity when we look at regional integration, especially when it comes to a grid-connected project. If we really want to solve the energy crises in Africa, we need to look into our countries first, before we think big.”
The President, African Development Bank, Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, noted that Africa “cannot industrialise” without improving power generation capacity, adding that Africa must strive to attain universal access to electricity over the next decade.
By Femi Asu[Punchng.com]