Policy and regulatory frameworks across Africa remain varied and largely constrain the development potential of the continent, international law firm Pinsent Masons Africa partner Rob Morson says.
Speaking at the PowerGen conference, in Sandton, on Thursday, he lamented that the current policy and regulatory environment is not conducive to enabling Africa to leapfrog the development of its energy sector.
He highlighted that more and more African countries are developing regulatory frameworks around localisation and local content and while this is a positive development, Morson believes these frameworks should be developed on a regional or continental basis.
While the disruptive nature of the energy industry remains positive in a sense, Morson explained that there are still constraints around the regulation of policy that is not allowing the continent to grow.
“Policy and regulatory framework is potentially disruptive in a negative sense, but I like to think of it as a positive disruption in the sense that policy and regulatory certainty will act as an enabler and not a constraint”.
Engineering company Aurecon technical director Loda Dedekind agreed, highlighting that legislative and regulatory framework certainty would enable even microgrids to contribute to a disruptive energy network.
Moreover, US-based investor-owned electric companies association Edison Electric Institute international programmes VP Lawrence Jones added that if the energy utility sector were allowed to work, without intervention, because of a framework that is consistent and stable, investors would be more willing to invest in the African energy sector.
He further suggested that, when integrated resource plans (IRPs) are discussed, other sectors need to also be involved in those discussions.
“Where we look at energy, we need to open our eyes and disrupt the process. The best person that we may need to talk to for an energy future is not necessarily the energy expert. Maybe it’s the guy who’s involved in education, or who’s involved with water,” he pointed out.
Dedekind agreed, noting that it is the isolation of the development of IRPs that place a restriction on the industry, as well as the development of potential projects in the energy sector.