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The private sector is a key solution provider to the energy challenge that faces Africa, says Chief Executive Officer of the South African Electrotechnical Council.

Addressing the South Africa-Zambia Business Seminar in Kitwe, Zambia, Chiboni Evans said that without energy, Africa will remain in the state of poverty.

The seminar was part of the Outward Trade and Investment mission to Zambia led by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

According to a statement issued by the dti, Evans added that unless the energy deficit is addressed, Africa will continue talking about industrialisation, growing its manufacturing base, adding value to the products and beneficiation of the minerals without having the ability to do all of that.

"The African Development Bank (AfDB) has stated that in order to industrialise, Africa needs a sufficient stock of productive infrastructure. Estimates are that the continent needs investment of between $130-170 billion a year.

"Through its New Deal on Energy for Africa, the AfDB anticipates that in order for Africa to achieve universal access to electricity by 2025 we will require 160 gigawatts of new capacity, 130 million new on-grid connections and 75 million new off-grid confections. To achieve these goals, it is estimated that the investment needed will range from between $60-90 billion per year,” said Evans.

According to the dti, Evans again made reference to the AfDB report that said in order to industrialise, Africa needs sufficient stock of productive infrastructure in power, water and transport. And the AfDB estimates that the continent’s infrastructure needs about $130 to $170 billion per year to achieve this infrastructure required for industrialisation. 

“The question is how much of that investment in Africa’s infrastructure will to go back to African businesses helping to implement those infrastructure projects. We cannot continue to have other people coming to build our infrastructure and do not develop the skills and create the manufacturing base in Africa. African countries need to begin to participate in executing these contracts,” Evans said.

She added: "The solutions to these challenges lie within the Africans Working together with the Copperbelt Energy Corporation in Zambia we can assist in providing the energy solutions for this country. As directed by Trade Invest Africa, a unit of the dti, the South African Export Councils have a renewed focus on investing in projects through the maximisation of African content in African projects."

The Chief Commercial Officer of the Copperbelt Energy Corporation, Titus Mwambunga told the South African business representatives that the demand for energy was growing at a rate that is higher than the generation capacity. To address this challenge, he called on the business representatives to invest in the hydropower generation, interconnectors and grid integration, and renewable energy.