AfDB, Oando Say Shortage Of Power Supply Hampers Growth In Nigeria, Others | Independent Newspapers Limited
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AfDB, Oando Say Shortage Of Power Supply Hampers Growth In Nigeria, Others

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Posted: Jun 9, 2016 at 4:33 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Charles Okonji


President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina; Vice Chairman of General Electric, Mr. John Rice, and Group Chief Executive Officer of Oando Plc, Mr. Adewale Tinubu, among others, have lamented the dearth of power supply in Africa, saying it has hampered the growth of many companies.

The African chief executive officers of companies and other world industrialists, who met at World Economic Forum on Africa, in Kigali, Rwanda, pointed out that the continent would not industrialise without improving power generation capacity.

Adesina, who emphasised that Nigeria and other African countries must urgently address power situation in order to remain relevant in the world economy of scheme in the next decade, stressed that they must strive to attain “universal access to electricity.”

AfDB said: “We have got to be so impatient with moving Africa forward relentlessly – we have no choice. In 2025, there is absolutely no reason why Africa should not be totally lit up with the power it needs to industrialise because we must not forget no economy ever develops unless you have the base load power to drive industries and be competitive.”

The vice chairman of General Electric noted that there were some well-intentioned initiatives geared towards meeting the energy gaps, but challenges related to financing, bureaucracy, traditional risk analysis and decision-making based on election cycles led to the delay.

Rice cited the case of the US-backed Power Africa Initiative, which was launched in 2013 by President Barack Obama with a view to “double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.”

He explained that Power Africa, supported by a host of governments and private sector players, had an ambitious goal of adding 30,000 megawatts of electricity, but regretted that so far the number of megawatts added to the grid directly related to the initiative “is very little.”

Group Chief Executive Officer of Oando Plc reckoned Africa to be “potentially the largest power market in the world”, based on available resources and demand for electricity.

Tinubu said: “We are losing a wonderful opportunity to leapfrog out of poverty by not having a more sustainable or robust energy policy. I think without a doubt, the biggest challenge we have to economic growth is really our poor consumption of energy, and invariably our very expensive consumption of energy.

“We are never going to become an exporting continent until we lower our cost of energy and we take advantage of these different energy sources. Although there has been some momentum in developing power projects in recent years, sub-Saharan Africa still has a long way to go with hundreds of millions of people not having access to grid-connected electricity.

“The private sector can play a significant role in power generation, but only if there is a friendly business environment. Nigeria has become reliant on private diesel generators, which are pricier to operate compared to industrial power.

“What was missing was having an enabling environment, which the government has finally realised and has privatised the power system, liberalised tariffs and in the process we are now seeing the private sector getting involved in building new power plants, and we are now attracting global capital.

“The difference is power is now seen as a business opportunity for investors to make a return. People now have access to cheaper power than when the government was subsidising and was unable to meet that demand,” he stressed.

Oando boss suggested the development of more regional mega-projects in the continent.

The Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, disclosed that his company would soon be making a US$2.1 billion energy transaction.

He stated: “That is an investment we are making, not out of philanthropy, but because we see the returns on investments is quite high in Africa.”

The Chief Executive Officer of BioTherm Energy, a Southern Africa-focused investor in energy projects, Mrs. Jasandra Nyker, called for a greater sense of urgency in developing projects.