The world’s poorest continent needs $21 billion annually to overcome its power problems despite sitting on large energy resources, the African Union (AU) infrastructure head said on Thursday. Power shortages are common in many African nations, costing economies billions of dollars, shutting down industries and dampening investment, even though resources of solar, hydro, oil, gas, coal and geothermal power are abundant.
“Power means factories. It means farms. It means everything,” the AU infrastructure and energy commissioner, Elham Ibrahim, told Reuters in an interview. Only 30 percent of Africans have access to electricity compared with an average of 40 percent in other emerging markets, Ibrahim said. Wariness on the part of foreign investors has increased with the global economic slowdown. Where once they saw one of the last frontier markets, now they see too much risk.
“The financial crisis affected everything,” Ibrahim said. “But should everything stop because of it? The potential (for investment in energy) here really is very high.” Ibrahim said that more private investment was needed. Pooling power supplies across a number of African countries may help the continent meet its energy needs and grow its economies more quickly, Ibrahim said.
SOURCED FROM REUTERS