- Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the new President, African Development Bank (AfDB), says he will in the incoming years focus on tackling Africa’s chronic power shortages to unlock its economic potential.
- Adesina said this at his swearing in as AfDB’s eighth president on Tuesday in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
- The former Nigeria’s agricultural minister said though it boasts nearly a billion people, sub-Saharan Africa consumes about as much power as Spain, with less than five percent that number, due to poor generating capacity and limited transmission networks. Two-thirds of Africans have no access to electricity.
- The lack of reliable power grids is a major obstacle to industrialising the continent’s economies at a time when Africa hopes to make a transition from commodities producer to a manufacturing hub and challenge Asia where labour costs are rising.
- According to the International Energy Agency, Africa requires an additional $450 billion in power sector investment to halve blackouts and achieve electricity access for all in urban areas by 2040.
- Adesina said as of 2013, the bank – founded in 1964 and funded by African nations and shareholder countries outside the continent – had lent a total of 67.22 billion Units of Account or about $94 billion.
“Africa could easily be growing at double-digit GDP rates if we solve this problem of energy,”
Energy poverty on the continent has to be solved as a matter of urgency, as a matter of scale. This is going to be my most important priority,” he told Reuters in an interview last week.
- The event was attended by African leaders including Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President who stood in for President Muhammadu Buhari.