President Paul Kagame arrived in Lusaka, Zambia on Tuesday morning to attend the annual meeting of the African Development Bank Group and is scheduled for several panel discussions.
The five-day meeting (May 23-27) is the 51st annual edition of the Bank. In a sideline event held Tuesday afternoon on energy, its panel was President Kagame, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina.
The continental bank believes that Africa cannot wait for the best clean form of energy generation but “simply needs energy now”.
Kagame feels it’s a shame that with abundant resources the continent is still failing to generate enough energy to trigger an industrial revolution; “Lighting and powering Africa really means industries. We won’t be able to achieve that by just off-grid solutions. The approach for us is making sure we indeed have the right mix.”
“I won’t speak for other presidents, but I am ashamed that Africa doesn’t have electricity,” Adesina repeated President Kagame’s statement made during the recent World Economic Forum on Africa held in Kigali, Rwanda.
Rwanda which needs about 563 MW by 2018 from the current less than 200MW, wants to quickly solve its energy deficit. The country has moved from 7% to 24% for grid power and from 5% to 22% for off grid energy in the last few years.
In February 2011, the AfDB approved $15.8million as part of funding for Rwanda’s $90million KivuWatt methane gas extraction project from Lake Kivu. Five years later in May 2016, the project started producing 26MW of energy. In the second phase it will produce an additional 74MW.
However, in a 2015 power agreement, Kenya was expected to start exporting 30 MW to Rwanda in 2016 but this has failed. Kagame says; “Kenya was ready to sell us power and I was ready to take it – but there was no transmission capacity.”
“We need three things to address energy in Africa – finance, technology, expertise” says Kassim Majaliwa, Prime Minister, Tanzania.
Although Africa presents a huge energy potential only 16% of the population is connected to any form of power source. “We need to stop theorising but put in place practical and tangible solutions,” Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta told leaders and policy makers.
For AfDB President Akinwumi, the continent cannot develop without energy; “Africa Doesn’t need pity, it needs resources. Even insects move from the darkness to the light. We’re simply tired of not having electricity.”
According to Nachilala Nkombo the Deputy Director of ONE Campaign Africa, “Africa’s pension fund holds over $300 billion invested outside the continent. This money, she says “can finance Africa’s energy needs”.
She said that 420 million Africans live on less than $1.25 a day. The number will increase to 550 million by 2025 if Africa does nothing.
About 3500 Africans that have drowned into the Mediterranean sea and more attempting to crossover to Europe escaping poverty and bad environment in Africa, there is a solution.
The President of the African Development Bank announced that AfDB is putting up a fund with $5billion specifically to incubate ideas from young Africans.
“We are tired of poverty and bad environment and one way to deal with the issues is to invest in industrialisation,” Kagame told participants.
Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu hosting the meeting said, “We expect that AfDB will generate solutions that will enable Africa address energy issues and climate change. What is consoling is that we have a good plan from AfDB to solve this crisis in our continent”.
“There is a new momentum. We are beginning to move with a sense of urgency as a continent. It’s never too late. Energy mix will be dictated by our needs and resources,” President Kagame said.
The meeting attracted Heads of state, energy experts, representatives of global energy agencies, financial institutions and researchers.
The 50th edition of AfDB meeting was held in Kigali in 2015.