More than 150 African energy sector stakeholders convened at the 6th Annual Power Africa Partners Day in February to share their experiences and set a course for the future. Each person focused on one key question: How do we capitalize on Power Africa’s momentum, and the energy revolution it is catalyzing, to continue to turn lights on across sub-Saharan Africa?
To devise solutions, representatives from private sector companies, African governments and utilities, multilateral and bilateral development organizations, and 10 U.S. Government agencies met on the margins of the Powering Africa Summit, swapping ideas and working through specific issues currently preventing African governments from ending energy poverty as we know it.
Former Power Africa Coordinator, Andrew Herscowitz, opened Partners Day activities by highlighting the truly global partnership Power Africa has become. Acting Coordinator, John Irons, previewed Power Africa’s next chapter, and reinforced commitments to new and existing partnerships. Part of this new chapter includes the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (EXIM) and the introduction of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the successor to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). As Power Africa partners, EXIM and DFC can now provide new authorities, resources, and capabilities that will help achieve Power Africa’s goals.
The DFC will help businesses expand into emerging energy markets with even greater speed and efficiency. An increased lending capacity (up to $500 million) and investment cap (now $60 billion, up from OPIC’s $29 billion cap), and new financial tools such as equity investments, technical assistance, and feasibility studies, gives the DFC greater ability to provide assistance to power projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
Introducing New Technologies, New Tools, New Connections
During the day’s panel discussions, Power Africa partners evaluated emerging trends in African energy sectors, such as gas-to-power and energy storage. A panel of experts explored how sub-Saharan Africa can integrate clean-burning and dispatchable power from natural gas with renewable generation sources, such as solar and wind. Natural gas development, from Mozambique to Senegal to Nigeria, will usher in a new supply of energy to fuel some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
Another session examined the degree to which energy storage technologies are disrupting clean energy portfolios, and driving forward new policies, regulations and incentives that will fundamentally transform the power sector landscape over the next several years. Keep an eye out for a new Power Africa handbook on energy storage for African governments, to be published as part of our Understanding series later this year.
Power Africa and the Department of Commerce also hosted a well-attended networking session to discuss opportunities for investment in the African energy market. Existing partners and U.S. companies new to Power Africa, as well as African government representatives from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Ghana, were introduced to potential partners, plus the tools and resources made available by the U.S. Government to facilitate the development of Africa’s energy sector.
Reconfiguring Our Partnerships Team
Power Africa recently updated the way we work with our private sector partners. Our new Private Sector Partnerships Team (formerly the Relationship Management Team) now provides support to partner companies by sector, allowing Power Africa-assigned Sector Leads to facilitate information flow and continuous learning around the latest developments in each sector. This change will improve efficiency and help move deals even more quickly in the coming years.
Throughout the week at the Powering Africa Summit, more than 85 companies engaged with Power Africa, including 19 current Power Africa private sector partners and 17 prospective partner firms. U.S. companies are increasingly realizing their interest in this unique opportunity to be a part of Africa’s journey to self reliance. The outstanding turnout and diverse group at Partners Day truly demonstrates the Power of Partnership and reinforces the shared belief that the long-term impact of Power Africa will be felt for generations to come.
For more information about the Power Africa initiative, visit www.usaid.gov/powerafrica.