To kick off the month of October, Kah Walla, CEO of STRATEGIES!, was a keynote speaker at the 2017 Central African Future Energy Conference in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Each year, the Future Energy conference hosts government officials, representatives of investment and financial institutions, and private developers to facilitate regional grid extension and infrastructural development. Ms. Walla’s message highlighted key actions which must be taken to increase access to reliable, clean and affordable energy which will in turn foster economic growth in the Central African Region.
Despite 60% of the continent’s resources and two of the largest hydroelectric capacity nations on the continent – Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo – Central Africa still lags behind as far as access to electricity is concerned. More than 80% of the population in this energy resource rich region, go without electricity. Despite lofty speeches and strategy papers on economic and social development, over decades Central African countries have not done enough to explore their potential and use it to drive economic growth and development.
In her keynote address the CEO of STRATEGIES! highlighted the urgent need for improved access to electricity in the region as a means to accelerate economic growth and development in various sectors including: Education (specifically development of IT services for learning), Healthcare (including improved services, facilities and access to information), Employment (jobs creation, industrial development, increased mechanisation), Environmental sustainability (less deforestation, efficient energy consumption).
She laid emphasis on Governance as being the key to overcoming the challenges of the Central Africa’s energy sector. She illustrated the importance of governance in a 4-dimensional approach:
- Investment – Only governments can create the business environments favourable for investment. This requires healthy, transparent and fair legal and fiscal administrations, as well as infrastructure and human resources that will ensure the success of investors.
- Regional Cooperation and Integration – To ensure affordability of electricity, grids need to go beyond national boundaries to regional level. It is necessary to Central African countries to first establish strong national governance of the energy sector, thus enabling regional cooperation to become effective.
- Reduce Corruption – Corruption in the energy sector in Central Africa is rampant, both in the management to energy resources and revenue. Until countries are able to curb losses due to corruption, affordable solutions will not be found and investors will remain hesitant.
- Efficient and Effective Management in the Energy Sector – This means improving management at three key levels:
- Diversification – Most Central African countries have a minimum of 3 and often up to 5 key sources of energy. To generate the quantity of electricity needed for growth and to ensure affordability by different segments of the market (large industry vs. small rural households) countries must diversify their sources and manage them in synergy. Solutions must include extending grids, mini and off grid, multiple sources and renewables.
- Inclusiveness – Given the socio-economic situation of Central African countries, the energy sector must create small and medium-sized business and jobs. Countries must strategically manage investments to create jobs for youth, women and those who are physically challenged. There are roles in the governance of the energy sector for government, private sector, NGOs and citizens. Diversification and stratification are key to ensuring an inclusive energy sector strategy.
- Stratification – Central government at national level cannot manage everything. Mini and off-grid solutions should be managed by subnational government structures and the private sector. Supranational structures must be functional to ensure extension of grids beyond national boundaries. The above three elements are thus interlinked in improving efficiency and effectiveness in the energy sector.
Photo credit: PV – Magasine, USA
Ms. Walla went on to insist that to solve the trilemma using effective governance, there are certain pre-conditions for governments. Notably:
- True political will to deliver services to the population and power growth in economies
- Inclusive governance; realising that doing it alone hasn’t worked for the last 50 years and creating the mechanisms to effectively integrate private sector actors, NGOs and ordinary citizens
- Decentralization and empowering local government to be the key actor for effective service delivery.
STRATEGIES! has over the years developed a strong expertise and knowledge in the energy sector in Africa with emphases on governance and management strategies. Since 1997, STRATEGIES! has worked with multinational and national corporations in the electricity as well the oil and gas sectors. In Central Africa STRATEGIES! Has helped developed national and regional strategies for the mining sector.
Services provided include:
- Evaluation and Strategic Planning
- Strategy Development at National and Regional Levels
- Organizational development, Restructuring and Team Building for both private sector companies and public corporations.
STRATEGIES! capitalises on its unique, in-depth mastery of the African continent and experience in the sector to deliver world-class services to clients and achieve results.