Chapter 4.3

Energy and infrastructure

Click here to download the full draft (as at January 2017, PDF, 1.3 MB).

Where are we now? Where do we want to go?

Deficiencies in infrastructure sap growth in Africa by 2 per cent a year (UN Economic Commission for Africa, 2015). This applies to both the transport infrastructure and to energy and water supply. According to UN estimates, this adds up to 40 per cent to the price of African goods on the world market. The International Energy Agency states that only around 32 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity, and only half of the population has access to clean water. Reliable, 24-hour water and energy supply is essential for businesses.

The "sun continent" Africa has the potential to significantly expand its energy supply system using renewable energies, without having to take any detour via environmentally harmful technologies. And it can make this system viable, sustainable and affordable right from the start. The necessary technologies to generate solar, water, wind, biomass and geothermal energy are available. If the general political framework is right, it will be easy to attract investors. It will thus be possible to give 90 per cent of the African population reliable access to energy by 2030.

Off-grid energy solutions can be used to provide quick and effective supply to rural areas. This creates jobs and paves the way for local value chains. Diesel generators must be replaced with highly efficient solar, wind, biomass and water energy. Private sector models and initiatives at municipal level can be used to obtain the necessary long-term funding. For example, village communities can set up cooperatives to build their own renewable energy plants, which they then manage themselves.

In addition to the need to develop rural areas, there is also urgent need for action in Africa’s rapidly growing cities. The existing infrastructure cannot cope with the influx of people. They live in precarious conditions without any access to energy or water, sanitation or sustainable mobility concepts. The economic potential of cities is being wasted.

The need for investment is huge; according to the African Union, 360 billion US dollars will be required between now and 2040. These deficits cannot be overcome without using African countries' private capital and own resources. Financing is not the only bottleneck; preparing funding-ready projects is the real challenge. When the overall conditions are right (as was the case with mobile communications), investment gaps can be closed quickly.

Our goal is to have a high-quality energy, transport, water and ICT infrastructure in conurbations ("New Urban Agenda") and in rural areas across the whole continent "to support Africa’s accelerated integration and growth, technological transformation, trade and development". (Agenda 2063)

One important pillar is the continental Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

Access to electricity in Africa (Afrobarometer Survey, 2014/2015)
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Access to electricity in Africa (Afrobarometer Survey, 2014/2015)

What needs to happen?


  • Turn to capital markets to mobilise financial resources for infrastructure and use them for sustainable rural and urban development
  • Consistently focus energy policy on expanding renewables and creating a needs-based energy mix
  • Establish off-grid energy structures in rural regions through private sector investment, municipalities and/or cooperatives
  • Secure access to local energy supply by means of digital payment systems


  • Support the development of funding-ready infrastructure projects and share experience of Germany’s energy transition so as to promote the expansion of renewable energies in Africa
  • Raise private capital for modernising and transforming the energy sector, focusing it on renewable energies
  • Expand incentive systems for establishing decentralised energy solutions in rural areas through municipalities, private investment and local cooperatives
  • Forge technology and energy partnerships
  • Cooperate with 40 African cities so as to harness the potential of Africa's rapid urbanisation and scale up city partnerships


  • Implement and expand G20 infrastructure initiatives with Africa
  • Concentrate development bank financing in the energy sector on renewable energies

continue to Chapter 4.4

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