Amyn Mussa spoke to Craig Sisterson about key challenges facing the sector.
This week’s Africa Energy Forum (AEF) in Nairobi is a unique opportunity to gather private and public stakeholders together to connect dots, spot opportunities, and collectively address challenges facing the industry, says energy and projects expert Amyn Mussa.
“Local lawyers and developers get unique access to the international market – whether it’s international debt providers or equity providers – and to governments,” explained Mussa, who will chair a knowledge-sharing session titled “Africa’s Green Transition: Where will the power come from?” on Thursday.
According to Mussa, “(The AEF) provides a forum for governments to listen to issues raised by the private sector and also an opportunity for different African governments to have a chat with each other. This is an incredible and valuable benefit that many people overlook.”
When governments compare notes with each other and share their stories – horror stories and success stories – it’s likely to have a greater impact than when the governments only interact with issues raised by the private sector, highlighted Mussa, a partner at ALN Kenya | Anjarwalla & Khanna.
While issues such as renewables and energy transition may be the main topics of discussion, one of the greatest challenges currently facing African governments in relation to the energy sector, says Mussa, is the cost of power.
“In Africa the cost of power is a huge issue, but this is not just an African issue,” he noted. “It’s a big issue for many countries across the world, and part of the overall inflation debate. The war in Ukraine has had an impact for countries that rely on oil and gas for power. But we’re also seeing the issue of inflation impacting renewable energy projects, as seen by the way the increased costs of construction and land affect one’s ability to build power plants at sensible prices.”
Mussa expects the increased cost of power will be a key discussion point at AEF. While it is highly unlikely that the attendees will solve global interest rates and high inflation during the different sessions, he says AEF is a forum where various stakeholders can discuss other variables that add to the cost of power.
“With proper dialogue, proper policies and procurement of projects in an efficient manner, I think we can chip away at the problem,” Mussa commented. “We need to ensure different government bodies are on the same wavelength, talking to each other and working relatively seamlessly.”
He says other challenges include “significant supply–demand mismatches” and the growth in use of off-grid power supply by the C&I sector, which could spark “significant regulatory changes”.
While the African energy sector faces complex challenges, there are also “very many opportunities”, says Mussa, from new technologies to regional electricity pools. In short, there are plenty of great stories and silver linings to discuss at AEF.
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