African businesses need reliable electricity for development

Africa’s lack of power is holding back development across the continent. All the evidence shows that safe and reliable electricity means rapid economic growth, and according to experts regular power shortages and blackouts costs Africa between 2 and 5 per cent of GDP.

In the 1950s Cote d’Ivoire and Singapore had similar GDP per capita, but now Singapore uses 8,840 kWH of electricity per capita compared to just 250 kWH in Cote d’Ivoire.

The poorest countries in Africa have the lowest electrification rates. Countries with electrification rates below 10% include Liberia, Malawi and Sierra Leone.

Access to reliable electricity allows businesses to grow and provide secure jobs. 50% of businesses in sub-Saharan Africa have identified inadequate access to electricity and poor supply of electricity as severe constraints on production.

The President of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina made the case clearly when he said: ‘Just imagine an Africa with lights everywhere. Businesses will boom. Factories will chunk out products. Africa’s cost of doing business will drop and it will be competitive. It will spark innovation. Jobs will be everywhere, especially for the youths. An electrified Africa will be an unstoppable Africa. Then, Africa will truly be free economically to join the league of industrialized nations.’

If Africa is to rise out of poverty it is vital that we do all we can to help developing nations achieve that goal.

Leaders in developing countries are very clear that they plan to use all energy resources at their disposal to lift their citizens out of poverty. We should be working to help them, not spending hundreds of millions promoting energy solutions that don’t work and that we ourselves would never accept.