I am pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words on a matter of great importance for us in Africa. It is particularly appropriate that for some weeks now I have been talking about renewable energy resources in Africa.
It is common knowledge that Africa is very well endowed with a rich variety of energy resources, including oil, coal, and other fossil fuels, hydroelectricity, solar and other sources of renewable energy. Paradoxically, however, Africa has yet to fully exploit this massive energy potential to buttress and sustain its development.
Whether measured in generation capacity, electricity consumption, or security of supply, Africa’s power infrastructure delivers only a fraction of the service found elsewhere in the developing world.
We are compelled to adapt to climate change and promote environmental sustainability which means that we should be innovative in seeking energy solutions. Already, fossil fuels account for a large share of industrial and household energy needs, which taken together with increasing greenhouses gases, dwindling reserves and escalating global energy demand have made it imperative to look for options for meeting present and future energy requirements in a sustainable manner.
It is commonplace that improvements in infrastructure have contributed a great deal to Africa’s growth resurgence. However, this has been mainly due to telecommunications and we have not seen any significant improvement in the quantity and quality of power infrastructure. It is therefore imperative to exploit and maximize Africa’s power potential in order to increase the economic and social gains that the continent has worked so hard to achieve in the recent past.
Energy development in Africa has to be a regional integration issue, focusing on those projects that will deliver the greatest regional benefit. I am not saying that national projects are not important, but merely emphasizing that our energy development needs are intertwined and cannot be delivered without regional energy projects. National projects are of course critical as energy cannot be transmitted across countries if national grids do not exist.