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Off-grid revolution needed to power Africa
April 11, 2017, 12:24 pm
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This year’s Africa Energy Week, which was hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan the capital of Côte d’Ivoire from 27 to 30 March, saw the participation of more than 180 stakeholders from across the off-grid energy sector.  

The overarching objective of the meeting was to unleash an ‘Off-Grid Energy Revolution’, to provide up to 75 million households and businesses not covered by the power grid with modern, clean and affordable electricity using decentralized solar technologies.

Speaking at the plenary session of the Off-Grid Revolution consultation workshop, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said, "Africa's energy potential is as enormous as its electricity deficit. We must move quickly to unlock this energy potential. We must be smart, efficient, sustainable and quick in our actions." He added, "Although we can employ mix of approaches, off-grid solutions must be at the core of our approach to achieve the ambitious electricity access targets that we have set."

The off-grid energy stakeholder consultation comes under the framework of the New Deal on Energy for Africa, which aims to provide universal energy access to all Africans by 2025.

Also attending the plenary session alongside Mr. Adesina were the Minister of Oil, Energy and Energy Development of Côte d'Ivoire, Thierry Tanoh; and the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Henry Macauley. For his part, Amadou Hott, the AfDB Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth, noted that millions of Africans have recently been connected to electricity by start-ups, driven by plummeting costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) and batteries, innovations in mobile payments and wireless communications technologies. "These businesses are increasing energy access across Africa faster, more cheaply, and more widely than conventional grid extension," he said.

In break-out sessions, participants discussed the issues related to access to financing, risk mitigation, enabling environment and appropriate business models to scale up the energy access in Africa. Overall, stakeholders reiterated the need for a stronger political will by governments; ensure long-term integrated planning of off-grid and on-grid, and to develop the local ecosystem including manufacturing, skills development.

Stakeholders also agreed on the need for more patient capital and local currency financing, hedging tools to mitigate foreign exchange risks, and to improve the credit scoring data.

The meeting was attended by leading and emerging businesses, country-representatives, civil society, industry bodies, local financial institutions, key development partners, technology providers, impact investors and AfDB staff.

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