On November 14 in Cairo, Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobisse participated in the second Business Forum for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) organized by the EBRD and Egypt. He was featured on a panel on sustainable energy with senior executives from the energy companies Masdar, EdF, El Sewedy Electric, and Scatec Solar. The discussion was moderated by Nandita Parshad, Managing Director for Energy and Natural Resources at EBRD.
The panel focused on how the SEMED region is at the forefront of renewable energy development, with rapidly falling prices, growing electricity demand, and outstanding wind and solar resources.
After introducing Africa50, Mr. Ebobisse highlighted the importance of off-grid and on-grid renewable energy. While Africa needs both, off-grid can rapidly increase access to electricity. There are already some companies doing great work in the off-grid space in East Africa, but the investment opportunities remain too small for large scale investors, he said. However, the trend is positive and Africa50 plans to back a few off-grid companies.
A major problem that needs to be solved for the industry to grow and become sustainable is the cost of storage, so that off-grid installations can operate independently of grids at cost-effective prices. As the level of activity continues to grow in the off-grid space it is also important for governments to organize the sector by putting in place regulations that facilitate the development of bankable off-grid projects. DFIs should also do their part by helping governments support the sector.