Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that without adequate electric power, all efforts to develop Africa economically and socially, will end in futility.
Obasanjo and other world leaders spoke on Friday during the FIN International Trade and Investment Forum, a side line event at United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
The former president said it was imperative that Africans, their friends and tdevelopment partners must work together to raise sufficient investment for getting enough power to help Africa development, saying that he personally believes there are resources out there to achieve the objective.
The observation came just as the Director General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who also spoke at the event, said that Africa can not industrialise or have a solid continental manufacturing base without energy.
The WTO boss added that the green statistics of energy access on the continent was instructive, as the International Energy Agency has estimated a $28 billion annual investment gap for energy on the continent up to 2030.
Speaking virtually at the event, Obasanjo said there was need for African countries to create conducive environment for investment to come into Africa for power generation, distribution and transmission.
He said, “Today, we have to think of grid system, off grid system and indeed individual domestic system to take care of what is required, particularly in the rural areas.
“I will challenge this forum to really workout what should be the factors that our leaders should consider, what should be the factors that Africans in the private sector will consider and what will be the factors that foreign investors will need and consider to be able to power Africa in terms of our development economically and socially.”
Proffering solutions to energy gap in Africa, Okonjo-Iweala, said African countries could not increase the continent shelf world trade without adding more value to our products through their manufacturing base.
She further disclosed that African countries’ future well-being on the continent was limited by improved energy access.
She said, “At the same time, the world is being buffeted by numerous manmade and natural exogenous shocks that are difficult for policy makers to manage.
“These shocks hit a continent struggling to manage simultaneous health, debt and energy crisis with limited fiscal space.
“But we must not lose sight of the opportunities of this crisis. Africa is abundantly endowed with energy resources from gas to renewables, all waiting for investment. High global energy prices make new gas investments more evident, especially as a transition mechanism of will.
“Even as we strive towards renewables, let us focus on mutually beneficial energy investments for Africa and the world by taking up the opportunities to harness the continent’s gas and renewable energy resources.”
Delivering her keynote address at the event, the Chairman, Board of Directors, NNPC Limited, Senator Margery Chuba Okadigbo, said sustainable, renewable energy is fundamental to Africa’s future.
According to her, the UN has disclosed that by 2050, the continent will be the home of 2 billion people, and two in five of the world’s children will be born there.