Ethiopia joins UK’s Energy Africa campaign

1 Feb 16

Ethiopia has become the seventh African country to sign up to the UK’s Energy Africa campaign, which aims to capitalise on solar power to accelerate universal energy access in sub-Saharan Africa.

The UK Department for International Development, which launched the campaign in October, said that 5 million households in the country lack regular electricity, disrupting daily life and hampering the country’s economic growth. Across Africa, outages cost countries 1-2% of their gross domestic product.

International development minister Nick Hurd said affordable, reliable electricity will mean children can do their homework after dark, women and girls are safer at night and families are not forced to rely on expensive and toxic kerosene.

The mobile payments system, which is core to the solar technology, will also mean those without bank accounts can access finance and build a credit history for the first time.

The Energy Africa campaign aims to achieve universal energy access on the continent by 2030 by exploiting favourable shifts in the solar market, including lower costs, improved technology and efficiency and the spread of mobile payment systems to help people pay for their energy.

Ethiopia joins Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and Somalia who have pledged to work with Britain on the programme.

Last week, the United States’ similar initiative, Power Africa, launched a roadmap to meeting goals set out by President Barack Obama – to add 30,000 megatwatts and 60 million connections across sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

America’s international development agency, USAID, said the government’s commitment of an initial $7bn had leveraged nearly $43bn in commitments from over 120 public and private sector markets.

“With a robust financial foundation in place and an expanding group of partners committed to producing results, Power Africa is breaking the logjam on energy infrastructure and keeping eager capital flowing to our projects,” said USAID administrator Gayle Smith.

The agency also launched a tool that allows for easy, real-time tracking of transactions across the continent, providing previously unavailable data that will increase transparency and enhance the competitiveness of African markets, said USAID.

Obama launched Power Africa in 2013. It partners with African governments, the private sector and donor governments and international institutions. 

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