On the margins of the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union General Assembly that took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on February 18-19, 2023, African Heads of State held a Presidential Roundtable on Securing Africa’s Universal Energy Access. The event was convened by the Union of the Comoros in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the World Bank, with the goal of accelerating action to achieve energy access for all Africans by 2030.
Universal energy access is critical to supporting the acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and African Single Electricity Market (AfSEM)— two key elements of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 — both of which can unlock the creation of productive jobs and growth opportunities required to meet the aspirations of Africa’s rapidly growing population.
The roundtable convened African heads of state, senior officials from the African Union Commission, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the private sector, and other key development partners and institutions to reaffirm commitment to the universal energy access goal. Together, they will explore how this commitment can drive long-term, coordinated actions focusing on accelerating electrification efforts to reach universal energy access, ensuring financial viability of power utilities, and promoting regional integration and power trade, all which are critical to achieving the mutually reinforcing goals of universal energy access and energy transition.
About 570 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa (48% of its population) currently lack access to electricity, making the region home to three-quarters of the global unelectrified population. Two-thirds of all healthcare facilities do not have reliable electricity access and two-thirds of all primary schools have no access at all, constraining delivery of basic health and education services. With population growth outpacing electrification efforts in most of the large access-deficit countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, even more people will lack electricity access in 2030 unless electrification pace triples.
Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all is essential to achieving inclusive economic growth, increased productivity, and competitiveness. Accelerating electrification efforts must therefore be embraced as a national priority and approached as a collective mission that has mutual benefits for the whole continent.