Provision of reliable, accessible and economically sustainable electricity remains a pipe dream in most African countries despite the abundance of energy resources, said Ethiopian Minister of Mines and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu Saturday.
The costly investment, required for development of electric energy, has posed a huge obstacle to tap electric energy in Africa, said Alemayehu at a closing ceremony of a ministerial meeting under the auspices of the African Union (AU).
He said Africa is using an insignificant proportion of the electric power potential it has and the potential used in central and eastern Africa is less than six percent.
Low and fragmented exploitation of these resources, especially hydroelectric power and fossil fuel such as natural gas and coal, to generate electric power at lower costs, is among the key obstacles.
The share of biomass in some African countries represents up to 90 percent of the total energy resources. On the other hand, only 5 percent of the continent's vast hydroelectric potential is currently put to use.
Recent studies show about 20 percent of the population of Africa and, in some countries, 5 percent at most, have access to electricity.
Alemayehu said participants of the meeting have agreed to start working together to change the existing scenario and tap the power potential.
He said the main objective of the meeting was to identify the continental and regional energy problems and dwell on activities of capacity building, action plans as well as on ways of acquiring the necessary investment for the sector.
The conference is of paramount importance for Ethiopia, which has a huge potential in the sector, said Alemayehu.
The African Development Bank, the European Union and other international organizations, which participated in the meeting, have shown encouraging signs to provide assistance in the sector.
More than 20 ministers and close to 150 international organizations and experts participated in the conference.