Sahara Group seeks increased investment in power projects

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Energy and infrastructure conglomerate, Sahara Group, has called for an increased investment in power projects from Nigeria and the rest of Africa to match the anticipated growth in demand for electricity and support Africa’s drive for economic diversification and industrial development.

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In a statement by the company, it’s Executive Director and Co-founder, Mr. Tonye Cole, would be bringing this initiative to global attention, as he is expected to form part of the continent’s private sector leadership delegation to the 2018 World Economic Forum annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland.

The statement said heads of government and business leaders will this year at the forum, deliberate on the theme: Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.

The statement quoted Cole, who also represents Sahara on the advisory board of the UN SDG-Fund, as saying that the continent requires more support for ongoing regional pool activity that is gaining traction through bilateral agreements existing between some West African countries and East African countries.

He added that Sahara Group, through its affiliate, Sahara Power, was currently exploring various collaborations to light up Africa as a leading power provider on the continent.

“With other similar initiatives, providers will no longer be restricted to markets within their country borders, as this is probably the most effective way of enhancing access to energy; but again, it would require strong political will and huge funding that can only be achieved by global collaboration,” he added.

Cole maintained that access to energy was crucial not only for the attainment of health and education outcomes, but also for reducing the cost of doing business and for unlocking economic potential and creating jobs.

He said, “Significant impediments to improving the power situation still prevail. Governments have been known to intervene in order to set electricity tariffs. These tariffs are seldom cost reflective thus affecting the viability of the sector. Also, there is a gaping deficit of indigenous human resources in SSAs power sector as the region relies on imported skill and talent for the execution, operation and maintenance of power projects.”

Cole argued that there are credible prospects for upward trends in access to energy in Africa, which are evident via continuing privatization and unbundling of power assets, emergence of more decentralized power models and growth in power demand across the continent.

He noted that, “The theme for this year’s meeting is quite apt. The shared future we all seek can only be achieved through collaboration.

“We will be making a strong case for increased investment in power projects from African and global sources to match the anticipated demand growth and support Africa’s drive for economic diversification and industrial development.”

He also commended the proposed African Development Bank’s ‘New Deal on Energy for Africa’, a quest for lighting up Africa by achieving universal electricity access by 2025 with a strong focus on encouraging clean and renewable energy solutions.

“The bank projects that the universal electrification of the continent will require creating and providing 160 GW of new capacity, 130 million new on-grid connections, 75 million new off-grid connections and 150 million households with access to clean cooking solutions. The investment required will range between US $60 billion and US $90 billion per year, with the ADB committing to invest US $12 billion in capital resources to the sector over the next five years.

“This is a good place for the world to deliberate on how the additional capital requirement for this noble project can be achieved whilst also providing support for other initiatives that will enhance access to energy in Africa,” Cole added.

Furthermore, he stated that the world is in urgent need of a more coordinated level of shared expertise, resources and influences to forge ahead on key developmental fronts.

According to him, the mission to realize the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, is possibly the most daunting objective faced by the United Nations, adding that the impact the attainment of these goals would have on the ability of the entire global system to co-exist peacefully cannot be over-emphasised.

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