AFRICA – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Sahara Group have unveiled the Africa Renewable Energy Forum.

The goal of the forum is to boost access to sustainable energy for 10 million households in Africa through alternative energy initiatives and interventions.

Both organisations inaugurated the energy forum at the ongoing 74th UN General Assembly in New York.

A statement from Sahara Group said the Africa Renewable Energy Forum was expected to bolster ongoing partnership between the UNDP and the Sahara Group with the aim to create access to clean and affordable energy in Africa.

It said the forum would serve as a platform for policy discussions, multi-stakeholder collaboration and funding towards implementation of tailored renewable energy solutions across the continent.

According to the statement, Africa has the highest percentage of untapped hydropower potential in the world, with only 11 per cent utilisation capacity.

It stated that the global electrification rate reached 89 per cent in 2018 and 153 million people gained access to electricity.

The biggest challenge however, remained the most remote areas globally and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, where estimated 573 million people were not connected to grid power.

Ahunna Eziakonwa, Regional Director and Assistant Secretary General for UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa; stated that with over 600 million Africans having no access to electricity, the continent urgently needed to embrace renewable energy sources to sustainably connect the poorest and hardest to reach households.

He further added that access to energy will enhance the cause of poverty alleviation and yield huge benefits for education, healthcare, production and socio-economic development.

He also said that the UNDP-Sahara partnership was extremely crucial as it would provide a model for engaging a wide range of stakeholders to address the continent’s energy challenge in line with the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) framework.

On his part, Kola Adesina, the Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, said the initiative had the potential to create over one million jobs in Africa.

 “At Sahara Group, we believe that interventions like the UNDP-Sahara partnership will enhance productivity and shared prosperity in Africa,” said Adesina.

Sahara Group is a leading international energy and infrastructure conglomerate with operations in over 38 countries across Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia.

It is one of the leading privately-owned petroleum company in Africa with established operations in the sector’s upstream, midstream and downstream sub-sectors.

The firm is also an active player in Africa’s power and infrastructure sectors. It owns one of the largest thermal power plants in Sub-Saharan Africa and is also a majority shareholder in 3 power generating companies in Nigeria