Energy integration will be crucially important for post covid-19 economic recovery and sustainable development in Africa.
In a special webinar organized by the Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies (IDIS), experts revealed that energy both as an economic and social input was central to the attainment of Africa’s sustainable development as envisaged by the UN sustainable development goal number seven.
“Africa needs to reflect on how regional energy integration contributes to energizing its economic recovery program and attainment of sustainable development.” The experts mainly drawn from academia, private sector and the United Nations argued.
Although Africa has tremendous potential more than 600 million Africans lack access to electricity, Zerubabel Tefera, a PhD student at IDIS observed that, Africans pay 10 percent more for energy than the rest of the world and Covid-19 pandemic is making it worse.
“The Coronavirus pandemic which has since 2020 been ravaging the world, has compounded Africa’s economic recovery and sustainable development. Given Africa’s weak political, economic and social structures, the post Covid-19 impact on the continent is likely to be more devastating than in other regions. It is estimated that, after the pandemic, 23 million more Africans will fall below the poverty line and the number of people living on food aid will nearly double,” observed Prof. Maria Nzomo, Director, IDIS.
“There is now urgent need for a regional energy integration strategy and approach to serve as an essential enabler for the overall development of the energy sector that would in turn contribute to ensuring energy security for sustained economic and social development in Africa,” she added.
Dr. Kenneth Mbali noted that insecurity and lack of infrastructure were enormous challenges to energy integration in Africa, “Angola for example has to export crude oil to Europe to be refined while Mozambique’s mineral rich province is embroiled in unending war.”
Reflecting on the African Union’s role on energy integration, Sylvain Degolm said that we are leveraging on technology to promote energy integration across Africa including initiating an energy integration information system for member states.
Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stephen Kiama called upon all stakeholders to formulate and implement a regional energy strategy that could effectively contribute and energize Africa’s economic recovery programs.