Enlarged private sector participation in the power generation segment of the energy chain is critical for Africa to achieve its objective of lightening up the continent. This was the consensus of a panel of discussants at the seminar on “Lighting up Africa: Are Electricity Markets Fit for Purpose?” at the ongoing Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Professor Mthuli Ncube, former Chief Economist of the AfDB, says in order achieve the goal of powering Africa, the governments of various African countries should work in partnership with the private sector, especially power generation. “But, I do not think that government can completely get away from transmission. I do not think that the private sector is likely to fill that investment space now. There is also a role for government in regulating the power sector to make sure that the market is competitive to encourage private sector participation,” he says.
Emelly Mutambatsere, Chief Research Economist at the AfDB says that a review of some African regions showed that the role of the private sector is gradually growing in the energy sector. According to her, governments’ regulatory activities are concentrated on grid activities as there is little or no law to oversee the off-grid segment of power supply chain. This regulatory vacuum, she says, must be filled.
By Dike Onwuamaeze