On the margins of the 73rd ordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center and Global Energy Center hosted a half-day conference focusing on new opportunities for development across Africa’s energy sector. The event featured welcoming and introductory remarks by Dr. J. Peter Pham, Atlantic Council vice president and Africa Center director, followed by brief remarks by Mr. Bernard Looney, BP chief executive for upstream. H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, vice president of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and Mr. Andrew M. Herscowitz, Power Africa coordinator at the US Agency for International Development, presented keynote remarks during the event, while Mr. Randolph Bell, Global Energy Center director, delivered closing remarks.
Vice President Duncan discussed the numerous opportunities for African economies generated by improved energy access. He highlighted President Alassane Ouattara’s goal of reaching 4GW of installed capacity by 2020 and outlined the steps his government is taking to meet this target. Duncan also spoke to the state of Africa’s energy sector more broadly, lamenting the insufficient access to reliable electricity and the impediments that hinder African countries’ ability to tap the continent’s immense yet under-exploited energy potential. In discussing these challenges, he stressed the need for ambitious energy policies cognizant of environmental concerns and attractive institutional and regulatory frameworks to fuel greater investment, among other recommendations. Above all, Duncan cited the continent’s stubborn infrastructure gap as the primary impediment to growth, underscoring the need to unlock private sector funds, in addition to non-traditional financing models, to meet Africa’s growing energy demand.
Mr. Herscowitz shared several lessons learned since Power Africa first launched in 2013 and expressed satisfaction with the program’s ability to provide market-driven solutions to advance Africa’s energy sector. However, he acknowledged the persistent challenge of bringing energy deals to close in several African markets. He also discussed Power Africa 2.0., an updated strategy that expands previous targets while placing greater emphasis on transmission and distribution infrastructure as well as the creation of enabling environments for the private sector.
Three panel discussions completed the event, each focusing on different energy resources. The first panel, moderated by Dr. Charles Ebinger, Global Energy Center senior fellow, focused on gas and featured Mr. Lance Crist, global head of natural resources at the International Finance Corporation; Ms. Emma Delaney, BP regional president for West Africa; Mr. Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50; and Mr. Jay Ireland, president and CEO of GE Africa.
The second panel, moderated by Ms. Meghan Gordon, senior editor at S&P Global Platts, focused on the future of oil in Africa and included Mr. Brian Herlihy, founder and CEO of Black Rhino Group; Mr. Adewale Tinubu, CEO of Oando PLC; and Mr. Stephen Willis, regional president of BP Angola.
The third panel, moderated by Ms. Aubrey Hruby, Africa Center senior fellow, focused on the spread of renewable energy across the continent and included Mr. Kerry Adler, president and CEO of SkyPower; Mr. William Doffermyre, vice president and general counsel of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; and Mr. Christopher Ryan, head of North America at Mainstream Renewable Power. Among those in attendance and participating in the discussion were three former Assistant Secretaries of State for African Affairs–Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Mr. Walter H. Kansteiner III, and Africa Center Senior Fellow Constance Berry Newman–senior business leaders from across the continent, and thought leaders from a variety of industries.
Watch the highlights of the conference here:
This event was made possible by generous support from BP.