Gadi Taj is the Head of Power Sector at the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), an organisation developed and hosted by the African Development Bank. He is responsible for the transactional support to numerous African governments and utilities for the development, procurement and financing of over 30 power sector infrastructure projects across the continent.
Lawyer and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), Gadi is leading a team of legal professionals advising on projects ranging from small-scale innovative technologies to largescale conventional projects in the hope of tackling the African energy deficit.
This interview was originally published in African Power & Energy Elites 2021.
WHAT INDUSTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE POWER AND ENERGY SECTOR ARE YOU LOOKING AT FOR INSPIRATION?
I find the cryptocurrency space and blockchain technology to be quite interesting at the moment with very similar dynamics to the ones we are seeing emerging in the African energy sector. There are many parallels to draw. A national currency is a deeply centralised monetary system with a few actors and significant government control; cryptocurrency is challenging this model by bringing decentralised and tokenised subsystems, which not only allow several different tokens to coexist in the same space but also to serve different and sometimes very specific functions while still being interchangeable.
Ultimately the energy transition will see a similar gradual decentralisation of the national grids into more flexible and resilient energy subsystems. With the rise of offgrid, mini-grid and energy storage solutions, the diversification of the energy mix, the new bridges between the transport and energy industry, and the bi-directionality of green hydrogen, C2G and V2G, the energy transition is offering many exciting ways to completely redesign our industry with fewer boundaries making way for optimised and bidirectional systems.
Additionally, cryptocurrencies are often praised for their anonymity but their technology makes the transaction history of each token an extremely reliable feature for any chosen activity. In our sector, this could address the growing demand from consumers to know whether the electricity they consume is green. I think that to be able to fully grasp the potential of the new technologies, we will need as much vision and creativity as we currently see in the cryptocurrency space.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH UNCERTAINTY AS A LEADER IN A TIME WHERE LEADERSHIP IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER?
I’ve always been comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty but I think we can all agree that 2020 brought it to another level.