HomeFeatures/AnalysisExclusive interview with Professor Anton Eberhard, Director of the Management Programme in...

Exclusive interview with Professor Anton Eberhard, Director of the Management Programme in Infrastructure Reform and Regulation

Anton E imageProf Eberhard will chair the opening keynote session at the upcoming African Utility Week with the theme: “Global trends, an African hope or dream”. During the event, the publication ‘Independent Power Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons From Five Key Countries’, which he was the lead author on, will also be launched.

Any particular projects that you are involved with in the energy sector currently that you are particularly excited about?

The move by an increasing number of African countries away from directly negotiated power deals to competitive tenders or auctions, especially for renewable energy.

Please tell us more about your upcoming book: “Independent Power Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons From Five Key Countries”?

The two fastest growing sources of investment in power generation capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa are private independent power producers (IPPs) and Chinese investments. Along with consultants, Katharine Gratwick, with World Bank staffers, Elvira Morella and Pedro Antman, we have just published a book on IPPs in Sub-Saharan Africa. The study builds on lessons from five key countries – Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Investment trends are documented as well as key success factors, including planning, procurement and contracting issues. Attention is also given to the credit worthiness of off-takers and appropriate risk mitigation strategies and instruments. There is now persuasive evidence that competitive tenders or auctions produce superior and transparent price and investment outcomes, compared to unsolicited, directly negotiated projects.

What surprised you about the results in this publication?

The rate at which IPP and Chinese investment are growing in the power sector in Africa.

What do you think are most important lessons?

African governments should strengthen power planning and convert plans into timely initiation of well-designed competitive tenders or auctions which deliver superior investment and price outcomes compared with directly negotiated projects.

Which countries are doing the right things at the moment?

Obviously, the South African Renewable Energy IPP programme is a big success. Over four rounds, it has attracted US$bn in private investment in 92 projects totalling 6327MW with wind and solar PV prices amongst the lowest in the world. Uganda’s GETFiT tenders have delivered a pipeline of small renewable energy projects.

Zambia, through the IFC’s Scaling Solar, has launched a solar auction. And Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia are in the process of designing renewable energy competitive tenders or auctions.