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FIN 2022: Powering Sub-Saharan Africa with renewable energy opportunities

By Njideka Agbo
16 September 2022   |   4:15 am
On September 23, 2022, the FIN International Trade & Investment Forum will host 300 international dignitaries, including world leaders and change-makers from 30 countries in New York, USA.

[FILES] Solar…a key source of renewable energy

On September 23, 2022, the FIN International Trade & Investment Forum will host 300 international dignitaries, including world leaders and change-makers from 30 countries in New York, USA. With 20 experts speaking on its theme “Power for Africa”, this forum will address issues in power and renewable energy, explore Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) power-solving techniques and Africa’s access to electricity.

As energy demand continues to increase, hundreds of millions of people in Africa lack basic access to electricity and resort to the use of unclean fuels to cook and power their homes. A 2019 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) reveals that 770 million people have no electricity, 75 percent of this number live in sub-Saharan Africa. Most commercial entities in this region run on fossil energy, which is expensive and contributes to climate disruptions. The fact that Sub-Saharan Africa’s residential and industrial sectors suffer power shortages means that countries struggle to sustain their GDP growth.

The President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, speaking at the last AfDB’s African Economic Outlook 2022 at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Accra, disclosed that Africa needs an annual investment of $32 billion to $40 billion in the energy value chain to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030. He also noted that the continent’s large economies like Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa accounted for about 33 percent of the gap.

Besides this, another problem befalls the continent. With 900 million people’s lack of access to clean cooking in the region, the $131 million commitment in clean cooking is just a fraction of the $4.5 billion needed by 2030. Current financing commitments fall far short, with major gaps in Chad, Ethiopia and Nigeria. Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, where 95 per cent of the population lack access to clean cooking, receive less than 1 percent of the annual investment.

In 2020, the AfDB committed $5 million via the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa to investment firms Enabling Qapital and Spark+ to raise equity for clean cooking companies in the region. This funding, together with €10 million from the European Union through its blending facility, has attracted many investors, helping to mobilise capital for investment in clean cooking.

As proven time and again, power consumption and economic development are closely linked. According to the International Energy Agency, closing the energy gap in Sub-Saharan African countries from now till 2030 will require an estimated annual investment of $28 billion, another $7.5 billion for grid expansion and $6.5 billion for off-grid investments.

As a key driver of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for Africa and other developing economies, FIN notes that it aims to create a strategic platform for investment in the power and renewable energy sector which will serve as a boost to African nations, regions and states to greater economic growth and development.

In light of the aforementioned, this forum will serve as a launchpad for the international business community to explore investment opportunities in Africa. It will stimulate wider investment exchanges between countries/organisations toward a prosperous Africa, and also serve as a platform for states to build partnerships, foster business relationships and attract quality investors and project financiers in the power and renewable energy sector.

The forum will also interrogate the role of AI in the power ecosystem. It is believed that AI can untie the difficulties experienced in large power management systems with even more interconnections installed to meet the increasing load demand.

Dr. Alex Itkin, FIN’s President and the organiser of the forum, says that this is much needed as it will stimulate the collaboration with partner countries, institutions and organisations to achieve key mandates such as:
-building on existing power projects that sustain the pipeline for the inclusion of women in the power value chain and innovations;
-serving as advocacy machinery for the development of job creation incubation system for youths;
-sparking a campaign to increase access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa by adding more megawatts (MW) of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity to new homes and business connections;
-exploring business opportunities for investors and emerging economies in the development of cottage industries for rural dwellers; and
-attracting more financing for start-ups in the power and renewable energy value chain.

After the forum, there will be the FIN Power Award Dinner where outstanding power and FinTech companies, policymakers, and organisations with outstanding Corporate Social Responsibilities will be presented with a Certificate of Honour.

Some of the confirmed attendees include His Excellency, Olusegun Obasanjo former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; His Excellency Faure Gnassingbé, President of Togo; His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema, President of Zambia; His Excellency Felix Tshisekedi, President, Democratic Republic of Congo; His Excellency Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of Egypt; His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana; His Excellency Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe; President of Madagascar and His Excellency Lazarus Chakwera President Republic of Malawi.

Other dignitaries include Prof. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwella Director General World Trade Organization (WTO); Mercedes Narcisse, NewYork City Council member, Mohammed Dewji, CEO and President MeTLf Group; Prakash Hinduja, Chairman Europe Hinduja; Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo Chairman NNPC Ltd; Mike Jocktane Gabonese Presidential candidate; Mohammad Abuhilal. CEO Sun Synergy Group, and many others.