Enhancing the capacity, accessibility, reliability and safety of energy in its various forms were the key issues that dominated discussions between South Africa and Sahara Group, a leading international energy conglomerate, in Davos, Switzerland.
The meeting had South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa; Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe; Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, Kola Adesina; and Director, Governance and Sustainability, Pearl Uzokwe, in attendance.
Both parties decried the insufficient harnessing of the continent’s energy sector potential, adding that achieving a robust energy sector remained the most critical component of the levers Africa requires to leapfrog into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The South African Energy Minister said a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders on the continent should be adopted and driven by an empowered public private partnership.
Radebe said: “The energy potential of Africa is immense and so much is being done to exploit this potential.
“However, what we need is properly defined machinery that would address the issue from a micro and macro level across the continent through cooperation. South Africa will be willing to partner with Sahara Group and other stakeholders to achieve this.”
Adesina said Sahara Group had since been leading the cooperation conversation and believes that South Africa has a lot to offer the continent as a frontline economy that has continued to demonstrate strategic leadership in the energy sector.
He explained that with an estimated 130 million African households still dependent on charcoal, kerosene, lantern, candles, fossil fuels, and over half a billion Africans without access to electricity, the continent would need to declare a state of emergency on the energy sector.
He said: “Energy is a critical component of driving economic growth and prosperity.
“Africa needs to have a common energy sector agenda that addresses the peculiarities of the various markets across the entire energy value chain.
“Sahara Group would be delighted to partner with South Africa to drive this agenda, working alongside all stakeholders.”
Adesina added that huge investment in technology would be required to expand the energy mix to include more modern renewable energy sources.
Also speaking at the parley, Uzokwe said the continent must ensure that any energy agenda adopted must have strong governance and sustainability components for continuity and longevity.
She said: “Supportive legislation, environmental consideration, safety and the sustainable development goals must be well articulated in the agenda.
“Transparency and the creation of a level playing field are also factors to be considered as we would be looking at applicability across markets with different capacities.”
Industry experts say meeting current and future energy demand remains a major challenge in all African countries, with the continent’s population expected to hit 2.3 billion by 2050.