The African continent must ensure universal access to electricity to resolve energy poverty, Energy Security Services Africa MD Gareth Gregory said on Wednesday.
Addressing a global audience at the Power & Electricity World Africa 2017 conference, he noted that it was unacceptable that the vast majority of the African continent was suffering from energy poverty, owing, in many cases, to the fact that there is no energy infrastructure in place in certain countries.
“Universal access needs to be broken down into its core elements and fundamentals, to resolve energy poverty within the coming decades. It needs to be a long-term solution,” he said.
Gregory highlighted that although government intervention was needed in the roll-out of electricity infrastructure, too much government involvement could hinder electrification efforts on the continent.
He noted that universal access to electricity needed to be driven by the market, with the private sector’s input.
Ivory Coast Association of Power Utilities FD Jemai Hichem, however, told delegates at the conference that universal access to electricity across Africa may not be practical within the next decade.
“It depends on the specificities of various African countries. Universal energy within the next ten years is a high goal, it needs to be broken down into steps and all stakeholders need to be involved,” he said, adding that better technology and more efficient investments needed to be made.
He added that, to get the continent electrified, many steps needed to be followed and that a proper framework was key to achieving the electrification goal.
Gregory, meanwhile stated that putting a ten-year plan in place is a good start to ensuring universal access.
“We need to understand energy poverty and how it originated. We understand that, through lack of transmission and distribution, Africa has run into severe trouble electrifying communities across the continent.”
He added that the continent was on the verge of decentralised energy generation, which was gaining traction.
Through decentralised energy generation, it would be possible to use microgrids to electrify small villages and communities, making them sustainable from an energy standpoint.