Renewable energy will be a critical driver of Africa’s recovery and economic prosperity after the Coronavirus Disease era, panelists said at the 2021 UK Africa Investment Summit.
The panel echoed that investment in large-scale electrification projects would be key, calling for a stronger partnership between the United Kingdom and Africa, while discussing the theme, ‘UK & Africa: Partnering in Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure Development.’
African countries are building back better from COVID-19, the Chief Executive Officer of UK Export Finance, Louis Taylor, said.
According to Taylor, this presents an unalloyed opportunity for UK investors to be part of the African success story and for African countries to access UK’s support for projects.
He said, “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 £1.7b guarantee to support the development of Cairo monorail in Egypt – UK’s biggest ever overseas infrastructure guarantee.”
The Director, Energy Financial Solutions, Policy and Regulation, 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 programme to securitise receipts from solar home systems providers.”
Shonibare further called for a structured approach to sustainable infrastructure development and the implementation of large-scale electrification programmes, citing the AfDB’s ‘Desert to Power’ initiative as an example of a project likely to attract interest from UK businesses.
Business Development Director, UK-based NMS Infrastructure Limited, Nicholas Oliver, urged investors to engage more 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 $3tn investment by 2030. What an opportunity,” he said.
Co-Managing Director, African Infrastructure Investment Managers, an infrastructure investment management firm, Olusola Lawson, noted the urgent need for access to energy in centres of high demand.
He said, “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.”