The roundtable was supported by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO). It provided a platform for Kandeh Yumkella MP, former chairman of UN-Energy; Aaron Leopold, CEO of the Africa Mini-grid Developer’s Association (AMDA); Jessica Stephens, COO of AMDA; and Dan Martin, renewable energy specialist at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), to engage with MPs on mini-grids in Africa in general and electrification of rural health clinics in particular.
The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, initially christened “the great leveller,” has proved itself the opposite. Instead, it is highlighting great inequalities across the world. Many countries in Africa are yet to see infection numbers reach triple figures. However, there is a great deal of fear of how the pandemic will be managed if and when numbers increase. Most vulnerable are those in rural areas, with health clinics that are yet to see electrification. Here, there is no chance for ventilators to keep people alive and when a vaccine does become available, storage and transport in these areas will be a huge challenge.
With rural electrification such a pertinent issue, 12 African MPs came together to discuss how sustainable rural electrification could be achieved and their own role as legislators. The policy notes highlighted the vital role of parliamentarians in de-risking investment and streamlining licensing and procedures.
The momentum from the current situation prompted commitments to be made during the meeting and requests for a follow-up in the near future, during which MPs will be able to discuss the progress they have made, what has been effective, and any challenges.
Future roundtables will address rural electrification as well as sustainable transport and affordable clean energy.
For the policy notes produced by the expert speakers, click here