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African energy leaders group: an innovative and unique compact.

At the end of May in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, leaders from business and government met to launch the West Africa Energy Leaders group. Dr Kandeh Yumkella, explains why this will mark a new chapterin our quest to light up the continent.

"IF IT WEREN'T FOR ELECTRICITY WE'D ALL BE WATCHING television by candlelight," the American comedian and actor, George Gobel, once said. What is a joke for the United States is the bitter truth for sub-Saharan Africa where majority watch TV or listen to radio powered by expensive generators and students study by candle light.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that more than two thirds of the total population, about 625 million, has no access to electricity even though the continent is rich in energy resources including renewables, solar, hydro and the recent discoveries of oil and gas. Another 730 million rely solely on inefficient and hazardous forms of cooking using charcoal, dung, and wood.

The stark reality of this challenge, energy poverty--widely recognized as the single most pressing factor holding back Africa's development --brought together heads of governments, former heads of states including investors and financiers under the leadership of President Alassane Ouattara for the launch of the sub-regional initiative: the West African Energy Leaders Group in Abidjan.

Originally launched during the 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Energy Leaders Group (AELG), an innovative public-private -partnership, conceived under the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, brings together committed actors from both the public and private sectors, political and economic leaders, at the highest level to driving the necessary reforms and investment needed for long-term economic transformation through the energy sector.

As part of their mandate, this group of stakeholders will champion large transformative energy projects across borders and will support deep sector reforms necessary to unbundle generation, transmission and distribution to provide access to the millions who are energy-poor, but see power lines by-pass them while they continue to live in the dark. They will advocate for using Africa's energy resources to create jobs and unleash economic prosperity for every citizen as well as improving the governance and commercial viability of public utilities and facilitating the flow of private investment and the deployment of technology.

Meeting this huge challenge would require countries to make profound institutional reforms, noted Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan of the Cote d'Ivoire. "Cote d'Ivoire is already demonstrating that the private sector is the main engine of growth particularly in the energy sector thanks to the stable, legal and regulatory framework that the government has established," Prime Minister Duncan noted.

An expert report recentiy released at the just Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, by the initiative on Sustainable Energy for All, noted that investment from both the public and private sectors will need to triple to more than $1 trillion per year to meet SE4A11 s ambitious goal of sustainable energy for all by 2030. In the case of sub-Saharan Africa alone, an increase in investments of about 55 billion dollars, up from the 8 billion it current is, is needed by 2030 to meet the goal of energy access. AELG champions will mobilise sub-regional development and encourage commercial banks to support energy investments, especially in projects with a regional or sub-regional focus.

Bringing together senior decision-makers in African businesses and governments to deal with Africa's energy challenge and to speed up electricity production across the continent with investors pledging to invest funds and government establishing safe regulatory and legal frameworks aimed at boosting larger scale national and cross-border production is what the AELG is about. "It is about the economic transformation of a continent. It is about ensuring Africa graduates from the economic shackles of low returns from extractive-driven exports and revenue-draining import-driven consumption and aid dependency, to a new era of local value creation and economic self-sufficiency," underscored Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, himself a co-chair of the AELG private sector.

Through AELG, the continent's political and business leaders are finding new ways to renew their pledge with their people to improve livelihoods and lives through transformation of their energy sector. They seek to bring real change and solutions to the lives of billions of citizens. Providing modern energy access will create jobs, improve the educational experience of Africa's future generation, businesses will grow and life expectancies raised.
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Title Annotation:PARTNER STATEMENT; Kandeh Yumkella
Comment:African energy leaders group: an innovative and unique compact.(PARTNER STATEMENT)(Kandeh Yumkella)
Author:Jacobs, Sherelle
Publication:African Business
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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