As we enter 2014, Community Renewable Energy looks at the promise of Power Africa.
Power Africa’s goal is to double the amount of electricity available in sub-Saharan Africa, ensuring that within 5 years, 20 million more people have access to power. According to Eliot Pence, writing for Brookings, Power Africa is “arguably the most significant new piece of policy from the Obama administration.”
The White House states, “Power Africa will build on Africa’s enormous power potential, including new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas, and the potential to develop clean geothermal, hydro, wind and solar energy. It will help countries develop newly-discovered resources responsibly, build out power generation and transmission, and expand the reach of mini-grid and off-grid solutions.”
Community Renewable Energy believes that combining the power of the clean energy sector and the incredible energy capacity of sub-Saharan Africa will improve millions of lives. We believe that solar, in particular, is a perfect fit for the region. After all, with the proper infrastructure, sub-Saharan Africa could lead the world in solar power production.
Power Africa holds so much promise because it doesn’t rely on humanitarian aid to get the process started. Instead, it’s built around public-private partnerships that will increase investment, encourage regulatory reform and bureaucratic transparency, and enhance power infrastructure. Power Africa requires $9 billion of private funds and $7 billion in government assistance. General Electric is just one of the giant corporations already joining the initiative. Joe Recchie, founder of Community Renewable Energy, has decades of experience crafting public-private partnerships that serve the greater good. Rather than relying on humanitarian aid that ebbs and flows, Power Africa’s public-private partnerships will strengthen Africa from within.
This December, American Capital Energy & Infrastructure announced that it would work in Nigeria as a part of its Power Africa efforts. Their Director of Africa Investments, Lisa Pinsley, explained the company’s move. “Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with one of the highest growth rates in the world. With a current population of over 170 million, the seventh largest in the world, Nigeria’s expanding economy suffers from a lack of power infrastructure. The United Nations estimates that Nigeria’s population will reach 230 million within the next 20 years, and the total grid-based power generation capacity must rise tenfold to 40,000MW to meet the demand.”
Power Africa isn’t simply about backing renewables, either. It’s also about eliminating the need for more costly and dangerous sources of light and power. (For instance, the Center for Global Development reports that use of wood stoves leads to 3 million+ deaths annually.)
Public-private partnerships may be the key to unlocking Africa’s amazing clean energy capacity, improving– and saving— millions of lives.
Power Africa includes the following countries: Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania.