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Press release from the Sustainable Markets Initiative 02 December 2023

Public-Private sector collaboration vital for unlocking renewable energy development in sub-saharan Africa: New report from the sustainable markets initiative energy transition task force

Report sets out key priorities for electrifying Africa, including decentralised grid solutions, data and upskilling communities.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Energy Transition Task Force today announced the launch of a pivotal report, “Global Grids, Money & Models: Unblocking Investment and Unlocking Africa’s Renewable Energy Future ”, highlighting the profound potential that investments in electricity grid networks hold for sub-Saharan Africa.

The comprehensive report, developed together with Octopus Energy and RMI, provides a strategic blueprint for government and private sector engagement in electric grid development, particularly as transmission projects grow more attractive for investment.

These investments can pave the way for a just transition, providing clean and reliable energy to foster economic and social progress, while addressing the challenges impeding progress.

Zoisa North-Bond, CEO of Octopus Energy Generation, said: "Just as many African countries leapfrogged straight to mobile phones, they can also bypass old-fashioned power grids in favour of a decentralised system based on clean, green power. Combining digital technology with private sector funds and expertise can accelerate Africa's energy revolution, create thousands of green jobs and free up vital public sector funds for essential infrastructure like roads and hospitals instead.”

The report provides actionable recommendations under the key themes of Finance, People, Digitalisation and Market Catalysts:

  • Finance: Drive effective public-private partnerships to overcome barriers to private investment. As capital requirements for grid expansion rises, the private sector should collaborate more closely with the public sector, working with governments and MDBs to unlock financing.

  • People: Put people at the centre of grid development. The opportunity to unlock Africa’s grid potential is immense - it will improve lives and transform communities, achieving several of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs). Africa’s sustainable grid's future will mean universal energy access, well-paying clean energy jobs, economic prosperity for local communities among others.

  • Digitalisation: Leverage digital advances to support grid infrastructure. Advances in digital technology have the potential to improve system reliability, improve customer experience, and reduce the cost of electricity.

  • Market Catalysts: Create an enabling environment and deploy innovative technologies. You can’t plan for tomorrow’s grids using yesterday’s plan. African utilities would need to reimagine grid development through the lens of innovation, from policies and market structures to emerging technologies.

    Ije Ikoku Okeke, RMI Managing Director of Catalytic Climate Capital and the Global South, added: “Fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors can help enable a Just Transition towards a cleaner, more prosperous future for Africa. The report highlights the critical role of the private sector in upgrading grid infrastructure, embracing decentralized solutions, and leveraging data and technology in accelerating scaled investment and empowering local communities.”

    The Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Energy Transition Task Force is working to drive progress as a group and accelerate the transition to a resilient, prosperous, low-carbon, and sustainable energy future – guided by the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Terra Carta.

    View the full press release PDF here

    Read the full report here