Two out of three people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity, but why should we care?
Putting aside the moral case, that African countries deserve the same quality of life that we take for granted, there are strong practical arguments too. At a recent hearing on aid and energy in the US Senate, development expert Dr Todd Moss set out why delivering on this agenda is in all our interests.
Closing Africa’s energy gap would mean a bigger market for British goods and services
As Dr Moss explains:
“Data show very clearly that lack of power for African businesses is among the very top constraints to economic growth. Resolving Africa’s power gap would help to unleash the massive consumer and investment potential of a continent that is already home to more than a billion people and is bursting with creative and entrepreneurial talent.”
Without the power to create millions of jobs, Africa will become more unstable
“Power is absolutely essential to creating the tens of millions of new jobs that Africa needs every year. There is no scenario where Africa is stable and thriving without a rapid expansion of the power sector. It’s not too strong to say that the continent will either become a source of new economic dynamism or a source of instability and threats—and that electricity will be one of the driving determinants.”
Some African countries are just too big to ignore
Dr Moss gives the example of Nigeria, which is he says is “an unavoidable American partner in our fight against nearly every transnational threat we face: terrorism, disease, criminal networks, and trafficking in drugs, guns, and people. With a population approaching 200 million, Nigeria is also a major investment and trading partner that we would be unwise to ignore.
If we help Nigeria build a modern energy system that meets its economic and human development needs, we will help a critical ally, support its path to better governance, and generate tremendous opportunities for American companies. Choosing to overlook Nigeria’s energy needs leaves only two scenarios: China fills the vacuum or Nigeria disintegrates and becomes an epicenter of dangerous threats.”