This means that energy investment is pivotal to achieving growth in Africa. There is growing consensus that, to make better progress toward full electrification, Africa will need to innovate. The continent’s phone systems provide a model. While older economies built centralised fixed line telephone networks first, Africa largely skipped that step with the rapid deployment of mobile telephone infrastructure, driven by entrepreneurial private sector companies. Africa’s energy networks may develop in a similar way, with renewable sources playing a leading role.
In developed countries, economic development has already taken place without those countries ever having had to consider the impact of their decisions on the environment. For developing countries in Africa in the full swing of industrial growth and social development, however, any restricting factor arising from environmental concerns is one that must be taken into account even if it serves as a source of frustration.
Responsible energy investment is about not only about the provision of electricity, it must also incorporate socio-economic development to ensure that electrification can realise its potential to make a real difference to the economy.