Experts Call for Stronger UK-Africa Collaboration

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Dike Onwuamaeze

A panel of experts has called for a stronger collaboration between the United Kingdom and Africa on mass access to electricity and infrastructure-led recovery from the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19.

The panel stated that renewable energy would be a critical driver of Africa’s post COVID-19 recovery and economic prosperity, and called for a stronger partnership between the United Kingdom and Africa.

A statement issued by the Communication and External Relations Department of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and signed by Mr. Emeka Anuforo, stated that the panelists who brainstormed during the 2021 UK-Africa Investment Summit with the theme, “UK & Africa: Partnering in Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure Development,” declared that investment in large-scale electrification projects would be key to African economies’ recovery.

They also added that Africa needed Britain’s innovation and experience to advance its economic development.

The summit was hosted by the UK Department of International Trade to bring together the UK and African businesses to explore the opportunities for partnership and investment.

The panel noted that data from the International Energy Agency stated that scaling up Africa’s capacity to achieve universal access to energy by 2030 would require over $100 billion per year, of which 40 per cent would be dedicated to solar, wind, and other low-carbon power generation projects.

The AfDB, according to the statement has taken the lead in accelerating the electrification of the continent through its New Deal on Energy for Africa, a transformative partnership-based strategy that aims to increase access to energy for all Africans.

The Director for Energy Financial Solutions, Policy and Regulation, AfDB, Mr. Wale Shonibare, said: “Building on the City of London’s deep expertise in innovative financial solutions, the African Development Bank sees promising opportunities to further expand its program to securitise receipts from solar home systems providers.”

Shonibare, also called for a structured approach to sustainable infrastructure development and the implementation of large-scale electrification programs, citing the bank’s Desert to Power initiative as an example of a project likely to attract interest from UK businesses.

A member of the panel who is also the Chief Executive Officer of UK Export Finance, Mr. Louis Taylor, said the pandemic presented, “unalloyed opportunity for UK investors to be part of the African success story and for African countries to access the UK’s support for projects.

“The UK is still the ultimate one-stop-shop. The UK government is still the largest G7 investor in Africa. For instance, UK Export Finance is providing a £ 1.7 billion guarantee to support the development of Cairo monorail in Egypt – the UK’s biggest ever overseas infrastructure guarantee.”

The Business Development Director of UK-based NMS Infrastructure Ltd, Mr. Nicholas Oliver, urged investors to engage more actively with local companies.

“We need to create partnerships with governments and local businesses. It is a great time to invest in Africa. The AfDB estimates that climate change presents a $3 trillion investment by 2030. What an opportunity,” Oliver said.

The Co-Managing Director of African Infrastructure Investment Managers, Mr. Olusola Lawson, noted the urgent need for access to energy in centers of high demand.

“In Africa, you can’t have transition without electrification. In this context, what we see is the trend from centralised large-scale power plants to a more distributive system,” Lawson said.

The statement noted that the UK has been a strong partner to the AfDB in the institution’s drive to attract greater private sector participation in African infrastructure investment.

The bank is currently working with a number of UK institutions to improve the enabling environment for infrastructure development in Africa.