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Enel Foundation contributes to the debate on "Electrifying Africa"



Oxford, September 10th, 2018

The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies dedicates a new edition of its Oxford Energy Forum to Africa. Enel Foundation published an article looking at the key enablers for electrification in the context of rapid population growth and urbanization.

The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies has just released a new edition of its quarterly journal for debating energy issues and policies. The September issue of Oxford Energy Forum focuses on the electrification of Africa, especially sub-Saharan region (SSA), and features an article authored by Enel Foundation’s Carlo Papa and Giuseppe Montesano examining some of the key enablers for achieving sustainable energy for all in Africa.

Due to the significant expected population growth in Africa, the number of those without electricity access in the continent by 2030 may not fall much from today’s level of about 600 million. That is why OIES invited contributors to cover a wide variety of countries and issues, focusing on barriers to electrification and ways to overcome them.

Enel Foundation contribution highlights the needs to consider the human factor as the real compass in the journey from poverty to sustainable prosperity in the realm of electricity.  Conscious that electricity has and will play an essential role in development, the contribution suggests to design growth paths and set development milestones relying on and implementing, from the beginning, scalable solutions to accommodate growing energy needs in a sustainable and resilient setting.  The authors identify three enablers for electrification:

  1. scalable technical design with utility-scale projects in and around urban areas and standardized mini-grids to be gradually connected and systematically expand energy access; 
  2. new business models foreseeing decoupling of generation from the mini-grid systems, restricting the latter to distribution and supply to end-users, while sourcing power from bigger renewable power plants serving more than one mini-grid at a time; 
  3. alternative finance, where clusters of projects, from mini-grid to industrial scale renewables and grid lines, could attract investors wanting to benefit from diversification in the short run while establishing a path to traditional infrastructure deals in the long run, provided a clear policy framework with a robust regulatory environment is available. 

Reaching consensus among communities on the type of future they want is paramount, as well as tight cooperation between government, local, and international institutions.

The September issue of the Oxford Energy Forum further looks at the broad issues surrounding electrification in Africa discussing topics such as the rationale for electrification, i.e. its potential contribution to achieve the UN SGDs and the contribution to low-carbon electrification of Africa’s growing population can make in the global fight against climate change. 

Oxford Energy Forum – Electrifying Africa Issue 115

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