Addis Ababa, (New Ziana) – Africa is in need of increased private investment in its energy sector which is a bridge to modernisation and industrialisation, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Tuesday.
Speaking at panel discussion at the Africa Business Forum organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) in Addis Ababa, he said energy was a key enabler for African economies to diversify and move from being producers and exporters of primary goods.
“Because most of our economies are primary economies, we need to move from that and process our goods, value add our goods and that cannot be achieved until and unless we have energy,” President Mnangagwa told the forum.
“It is critically important that we begin at the correct level which is (power) generation.”
President Mnangagwa is in Addis Ababa where he was attending the 33rd African Heads of State and Government Summit which ended on Monday.
He said while African economies were not all at the same level, the continent’s leadership was agreed on a vision to create a prosperous Africa.
“The question of vision, will power, I do not think we have a deficit in that area,” he said.
Sharing of ideas, he said, was as a result critical in ensuring coherence in coming up with a road map to achieving energy self sufficiency.
He welcomed investors to explore investment in the energy sector in Zimbabwe, which is currently battling a chronic deficit.
Power shortages were impacting on the country’s ability to fully produce in agriculture, exploit its vast mineral resources and value-add its resources.
“For the last two decades, our industry, our manufacturing sector collapsed as a result of the sanctions which we had. But now to revive it, we need energy,” he said.
Uneca Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe said Africa had over the years made progress in improving access to energy, with some countries now at over 50 percent.
In light of climate change which has seriously hit energy production in some countries, she said it was critical for the continent to diversify its energy mix and focus on clean energy.
“We need to make sure that the regulatory environment is good,” she said, adding investors must explore the continent as it currently offered the highest return of between 10 and 12 percent in energy investments.
Investors at the forum, which ran under the theme, “Investing in people, planet and prosperity,” stressed the need for African governments to ensure stability in their economies, and share risk with investors by also taking up private/public partnerships.