Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that without adequate electric power, all efforts and energy to develop Africa economically and socially, will not materialise.
Obasanjo and other world leaders spoke on Friday during the FIN International Trade and Investment Forum, a side line event at United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
According to Obasanjo, it is imperative that Africans, their friends and their development partners must work together to raise sufficient investment to get enough power to help Africa development, saying he personally believe that the resources were out there.
The development came just as the Director General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who also spoke at the event, said Africa cannot industrialise or have a solid continental manufacturing base without energy.
The WTO boss added the green statistics of energy access on the continent is instructive, saying the International Energy Agency has estimated a $28 billion annual investment gap for energy for the continent up to 2030.
Speaking virtually at the event, Obasanjo said there was the need for African countries need create the conducive environment for investment to come into Africa for power generation, power distribution and robust power transmission.
He said, “Today, we have to think of grid system, off grid system and indeed individual domestic system to take care of what is required, particularly in the rural areas.
“I will challenge this forum to really workout what should be the factors that our leader should consider, what should be the factors that Africans in the private sector will consider and what will be the factors that the foreign investors will need and consider to be able to power Africa in terms of our development economically and socially.”
Preferring solutions to energy gab in Africa, Okonjo-Iweala said African countries could not increase the continent shelf world trade without adding more value to our products through that manufacturing base.
She further disclosed that African countries’ future well-being on the continent is limited by improved energy access.
She said, “At the same time, the world is being buffeted by numerous manmade and natural exogenous shocks that are difficult for policy makers to manage.
“These shocks hit a continent struggling to manage simultaneous health, debt and energy crisis with limited fiscal space.
“But we must not lose sight of the opportunities of this crisis. Africa is abundantly endowed with energy resources from gas to renewables, all waiting for investment.
“High global energy prices make new gas investments more evident, especially as a transition mechanism of will.
“Even as we strive towards renewables, let us focus on mutually beneficial energy investments for Africa and the world by taking up the opportunities to harness the continent’s gas and renewable energy resources.”
Delivering her keynote address at the event, the Chairman, Board of Directors, NNPC Limited, Senator Margery Chuba Okadigbo, said sustainable, renewable energy is fundamental to Africa’s future.
According to her, the UN has disclosed that by 2050, the continent will be the home of 2 billion people, and two in five of the world’s children will be born there.
She then said, “Meeting their needs with sustainable sources of modern energy – for consumption and production – will be essential to social welfare and economic development.
“With a large population of over 200million, a growing middle class and a favourable investment climate, Nigeria’s Power Market offers numerous investment opportunities for Investors interested in power investments through Independent Power Projects (IPPs) such as the Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Agura and Obite IPPs.”
Other African leaders and experts also suggested the way forward in addressing the challenges of power in the continent.
One of the speakers at the event, Chairman of Hinduja Europe, Mr Prakash Hinduja, also said: “II would like to say for the next 100 years, world is going to keenly watch Asia and Africa. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for investors and corporations in the United States to engage with Africa power is just the starting point.
“We need to sow the seeds now, so that tomorrow the future generations can harvest the benefit. We owe it to the next generation. More people to Africa.”