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Powering Africa: helping energy infrastructure investment deliver growth and connectivity [WP1105]


The past decade has seen sustained growth across the African continent. Investment interest by the private sector is intensifying. However, an extensive lack of infrastructure, especially in the African power sector, poses significant barriers to strong, sustainable economic growth. While investment in generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure has increased, more than 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa remain without access to electricity, and the predominant use of biomass threatens their environment and health.

The transformation of Africa’s energy infrastructure requires fresh thinking and greater coordination between business, official donors and African governments, particularly concerning the leverage of available financing sources for sustainable economic growth and promoting universal access. This residential conference aimed to identify and facilitate such new ideas and areas for cooperation. It convened, in a discreet, round table setting, some of the key policy makers in Africa and the donor communities with business leaders and experts on investment in Africa, infrastructure finance and promotion of access to energy.

This conference focused on increasing opportunities for business by exploring strategies and tools to foster growth in infrastructure financing to sustain and broaden economic growth. It identified mechanisms to harness public and private finance for infrastructure projects and access strategies, and mechanisms to make donor assistance and DFI engagement more effective. Participants considered ways to engage new donors constructively to ensure the sustainability of African power sectors; and strategies to make donor assistance and DFI engagement more accessible. It considered how the public and private sector can use the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Energy for All in 2012 to help them develop Africa’s power sectors and energy services to Africa’s poor.

Key objectives were:

  • To identify opportunities for business to work together with policy makers, governments and donors to make progress in infrastructure development
  • To identify how business and government can use the UN’s ¬†International Year of Sustainable Energy for All in 2012 to give a push to infrastructure development and in particular access to modern energy services for the continent’s poor
  • To understand how best infrastructure finance can ensure a sustainable and accessible energy mix, and to explore the role of conventional resources (coal, gas) in powering African economies
  • To discuss the potential for regional and international cooperation and to consider how current political and financial initiatives can be scaled up for mutually beneficial results.

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