World Bank urges New Deal for Africa energy

The World Bank is calling for a �New Deal� for Africa’s power sector, urging efforts to develop large hydro projects, initiate regional power trade, and restructure electricity system management.

Obiageli Ezekwesili, the World Bank’s vice president for the Africa Region, said June 3 that Africa must invest 3 percent of its gross domestic product — more than US$20 billion — per year in the power sector to redress chronic power shortages and increase electrification. Most of that would be invested in generation, she said.

Addressing a summit in Arusha, Ezekwesili said another US$20 billion also must be allocated for operation and maintenance of existing power facilities. She said the effort would require quality planning, international cooperation, and a dedication to transparency and good governance.

�Regional power trade is the most cost-effective way to develop the continent’s energy resources,� Ezekwesili said. �Furthermore, by enabling development of otherwise prohibitively large-scale hydro projects, regional trade will contribute significantly to reducing carbon emissions.�

She said some of Africa’s most cost-effective energy resources are concentrated in countries that are remote from major centers of demand and too poor to raise the multi-billion-dollar finance needed to develop them. For example, she said 60 percent of Africa’s hydroelectric potential is to be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia alone.

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