The Doing Business in Africa series kicked off with a fireside chat with African energy expert, Dr Albert Butare.
While business cultures across Africa may differ from country to country Butare ironically highlighted ways in which countries across the continent are working together to increase energy access.
Talking about the work of the Commission of the African Union he referenced the work programmes such as NEPAD, which oversees more than 30 infrastructure projects, many of which are energy related.
“A lot is happening, especially regional initiative where countries can benefit from each other. For example, on intra-regional transmission lines such as the ones being built between Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia. That kind of infrastructure will benefit the countries in terms of power offtake, sharing and power trading,” he explained.
Butare has also been working on the roadmap to the African Single Electricity Market, which would make the case for power trading between countries that much easier. This single electricity market though needs careful re-arrangement of existing policies and regulations to encompass varying tariff schemes and issues of standardisation between countries.
One aspect of doing business in various African countries that Butare pointed out would always appeal to potential investors is transparent and consistent regulations, policies and procedures to govern business procedures and engineering and building procedures.
Easily understood rules around compliance, enforceable laws dealing with accountability and politically stable regimes are also hallmarks of the good governance that attracts not only direct foreign investment, but encourages local investment, said Butare.
African countries to do business in
Butare’s experience as an independent energy consultant across Africa in recent years is that more countries are paying attention to climate change mitigation needs and financing that is pays heed to environmental risks.
He used the Lake Kivu methane gas extraction project as an example to highlight how a country has to balance the need to exploit a resource for electricity generation against the risk of degrading an environmentally sensitive location. All this while also taking into consideration the lake is a shared resource with neighbouring country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Butare will also be a country expert taking part in the Rwanda roundtable, which forms part of the Doing Business in Africa series. The Rwanda roundtable on 22 October will concentrate on private sector participation in realising Rwanda’s Vision 2050.
Anyone wishing to take part in the roundtable must indicate interest by close of business on 9 October.