(TheBeamMagazine, Jan 2018)
As we start 2018, there is good news and bad news for Africa’s energy. First, the bad news. There is a lot to do. An estimated 600 million Africans do not have access to electricity that would allow them to be productive contributors to the economy. Roughly the same number of Africans also lack access to clean cooking fuels. The good news is that the solutions are not beyond our reach; we simply need technology, policy and finance to work together. Embracing integration and the moment, stopping the harmful subsidies and laying the table (policy environment) will help move forward faster. Africa is rising indeed, but it cannot rise in the dark.
As off-grid technology costs keep falling, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently estimated that by 2030, 195 million people, or 29% of the world’s unelectrified population, will gain electricity from off-grid solutions, especially off-grid solar.
Electricity provision has never been an issue Ethiopia has been able to solve. And with the inclusion of more power consuming projects, like the Industrial Parks in different parts of the country, the problem is unlikely to abate soon. But in discussing the shortage of electricity, it is critical to note that there are those who have no access to it, to begin with. Rural electrification projects are just as essential to the country's development goals, by way of improving domestic resource mobilisation and creating job opportunities, as most of the government's economic agendas, if not more.
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The European Union (EU) on Wednesday launched its energizing development program to provide support and solutions for a wide range of energy demands in Ethiopia.The program is part of the agreement reached in 2017 between the EU, the core donors of German Development Cooperation’s Energizing Development (EnDev) programme and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, together with the government of Ethiopia, to fund the existing Energizing Development activities in Ethiopia with an additional budget of €10.35 million.
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