Policy execution remains a problem in Africa’s energy space

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“We know that great wars are won by good execution, more than just great plans. Even a mediocre plan will be saved by good execution. We continue to produce policy after policy but we are very poor at implementation,” he said at the 2015 Africa Energy Indaba.

“The fact that in 1960, Zambia’s economy was twice as large as that of Malaysia, today, Malaysia’s economy is not twice as large as that of Zambia but 20 times more because of the choices and the decisions we have made, and those that we have not.”

Mohale further stated that the dearth of information on Africa is also hindering energy growth on the continent.

(READ MORE: Gas could fuel Africa’s economic growth)

“Most decisions are made about Africa based on very scant information – this is a self-inflicted injury,” he indicated.

“Often we’ll make decisions based on what we read from the World Economic Forum reports when Africa is really lazy in producing reliable, sustainable data on which decisions need to depend.”

While the continent may have substantial wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal resources, it is still struggling to ensure that the entire population has access to electricity.

“It is anticipated that world energy consumption is going to double in the next 50 years. The reason the World Energy Council chose this to be the year of Africa is to throw the spotlight onto Africa and this narrative of Africa Rising,” Mohale stated.

“We now have 1.1 billion people out of 54 countries and yet the Foreign Direct Investment we are attracting is less than one percentage point. Of 1.4 billion people that have no access to any form of energy, 620 million of them are on the continent of Africa because of the choices we continue to make.”

Mohale added that South Africa, in particular, must look at the choices it has made on energy and capacity generation, and how these choices will affect the country going forward.

(READ MORE: S.Africa to add more renewable energy to its power grid)

“We need to be dissatisfied with the fact that in South Africa, we were aware because Eskom told us in 1998, that by 2007, they would have run out of power. We did very little because at that time, the policy we were chasing was that of privatisation,” he explained.  

“We privatised in an environment where we erroneously thought that we were the world’s cheapest energy producer whereas we chose to sell it cheaply. We didn’t come back to do simple planning – today, Medupi, Kusile and Inga are four years late at three times the price.”