The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, says energy is his biggest priority. The newly inaugurated president wants to raise $55 billion of investment into energy projects.
Speaking to Dan Keeler of the Wall Street Journal last month, Adesina told Keeler: “The number one issue is energy. Today in Africa most of those who have access to electricity are high-income households. Yet you have 630 million people today without electricity at all.
“You see factories that can’t work, SMEs that can’t operate, farms that can’t run irrigation, schools that can’t provide basic education facilities because they have no access to electricity. These are the drivers of prosperity. My number one priority will be to power Africa, and to light up Africa”.
Electrification by 2025
Adesina believes that getting ‘power right’ is the only way to unlock the continent’s potential. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said: “I don’t see why we cannot achieve universal energy access by 2025,”
He continued that the number of people within sub-Saharan Africa who live without access to electricity is a threat to the continent’s GDP development. This was without consideration to the secondary effects of cooking fires on the health of the 600,000 people who die due to inhalation every year.
“So from an economic perspective, from a health perspective, from the jobs perspective and from a life perspective, Africa must power itself,” he told the FT.
Adesina previously served as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The African Development Bank is determined to address issues around the energy policy environment.
The PhD in Agricultural Economics says: “The biggest elephant in the room is the fundamental reforms needed in the energy sector.”
Policy issues such as regulatory environments and tariff structures are a deterrent to investment as many African markets are not seen as attractive due to policies which are considered onerous and limiting.