AfDB Assesses Soft Infrastructure Needs of Africa’s Energy Sector
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A report released by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Regional Integration and Trade Department (ONRI) outlines the state of regional electricity markets in Africa and approaches to capacity development for boosting the financial and technical performance of the sector.

ONRI published the report to aid development organizations, such as its parent institution, the African Development Bank (AfDB), as they seek to complement physical infrastructure investments with capacity-building.

AfDB20 November 2014: A report released by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Regional Integration and Trade Department (ONRI) outlines the state of regional electricity markets in Africa and approaches to capacity development for boosting the financial and technical performance of the sector. ONRI published the report to aid development organizations, such as its parent institution, the African Development Bank (AfDB), as they seek to complement physical infrastructure investments with capacity-building.

Overall, the report, titled ‘Energy Sector Capacity Building Diagnostic and Needs Assessment,’ finds that boosting regional energy trade across the four main power pools in Africa could enhance the continent’s energy security and take advantage of economies of scale in energy investment. The power sector, in its current condition, according to the report, appears to be inhibiting economic development rather than fueling it. “Soft infrastructure” issues, such as power planning needs, regulatory and legal insufficiencies and difficulties with energy sector restructuring, are preventing the efficient operation and financial performance of the sector, according to the AfDB.

The report notes that the energy sector is undergoing an exciting transformation in Africa, especially in terms of harmonizing regional standards, supranational planning, regional integration and grid interconnections. The first volume of the report details the underlying cases, data and analysis used to assess the transformation and the difficulties encountered.

In terms of the low-carbon energy sub-sector, projects examined include the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Agency for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency; the Regional Electricity Regulators Association of Southern Africa (RERA) energy efficiency and renewable energy training programmes; the anticipated East African Community (EAC) centre for renewable energy and energy efficiency; the African Forum for Utility Regulation (AFUR) renewable energy and efficiency efforts; as well as those of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the EU.

The second volume, in considering the conclusions of the assessment, recommends a capacity building programme and details its implementation in five critical areas: improving the legal and regulatory framework governing the energy sector; improving performance among the energy utilities that constitute the regional power pools; strengthening capacity in systems operations and dispatch; supporting reforms to nurture a conducive enabling environment to attract energy investments; and upgrading energy sector skills through targeted energy Centers of Excellence. [AfDB Press Release] [Publication: Energy Sector Capacity Building Diagnostic and Needs Assessment Study]