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Even though there is not much of a distinction yet between 2020 and 2021, perhaps some projections into the year ahead will give a positive perspective. On that note, ESI Africa spoke with industry experts to get their judgment on the past year and their predictions for 2021.

This is what the experts had to say in this part three of a series of five articles.

Sobowale Simisola, Off-grid Technical and Gender Mainstreaming Analyst, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Nigeria

Judgement: What developments surprised you during 2020?

At the beginning of the year, we had the Australian wildfires that went on for a long time and affected a lot of land mass, wildlife and property. This was a key indicator of the climate change challenges the world is facing; and the renewed need for all countries under the Paris agreement to further work towards meeting their targets as agreed upon.

The need and importance of sustainable, clean access to electricity was evident this year as a lot of people, due to the pandemic, were confined to their homes. I was astounded on how a pandemic could rock the entire world simultaneously – irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, or economic development. However, what has been most satisfying is countries working together to rapidly provide support through access to funds, information, and other resources, etc. The pandemic, though devastating united countries across the world more than anything else.

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For us at REA, the year 2020 was a critical one in achieving some of our established target or making massive strides in new ones. REA as an agency have numerous programmes running concurrently, with our performance indicators focusing mainly on the number of connections achieved in rural communities in furtherance of our mandate. However, due the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced a bit of lag in our proposed projects for the year.

Notwithstanding, REA was able to play important roles in the electrification of some isolation centres across Nigeria. The isolation centres electrified served as important hubs in isolating infected people.

Predictions: What trends do you anticipate for 2021?

In 2021, I envisage a major roll out of economic recovery plans worldwide due to the mass disbursement of the vaccine. The sub-Saharan countries of Africa would also undergo these recovery plans. Nigeria, through the push from the Federal Government, intends to kick off several programmes. Such programmes include, the 5M Solar Naija Programme, The REF Call 2, The NEP programmes, etc. Under these initiatives, we have the opportunity to tackle inadequate energy access.

To achieve this, there is need for a renewed push for renewables in the green recovery going on worldwide. Consequently, I predict a further drop in prices of DRE [decentralised renewable energy] components as increase in global demand skyrocket.

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Jacob Manyuon Deng, Director General of Planning and Projects, South Sudan Electricity Corporation (SSEC)

Judgement: What developments surprised you during 2020?

The African Development Bank-funded projects couldn’t get suspended in South Sudan despite the fact that COVID-19 had distracted all developmental activities all over the world. Ethiopian Airlines couldn’t stop and high rates of COVID-19 infections across the world could be attributed to Ethiopian Airlines.

It was a surprise to see all Ethiopian planes flying. In my country, many were surprised to see Former Vice-President of South Sudan, Dr Riek Machar accepting peace and staying in Juba without protection from IGAD. 

Predictions: What trends do you anticipate for 2021?

The region will restore power trade activities given that peace has prevailed in Juba. This is because peace in South Sudan means regional peace. COVID-19 will be a thing of the past and all flights will resume.

Look out for the fourth installment of ‘Judgements & Predictions’