In March 2016, some colleagues and I visited several villages around Kaffrine in Senegal where private companies had been awarded licenses to provide electricity on a commercial basis. As we spoke to people, two things became very clear. The initial cost of connection to the grid was too high for many poor people, and the cost of electricity offered by the private companies (or “concessionaires”) were in several cases higher than what the government-owned utility offered in nearby areas.
What would it take to transform Africa’s energy sector? This is the question we grappled with in a discussion on Friday with Energy and Finance ministers from across Africa. The discussion was part of a standing-room only event that took place during World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. The discussion could have gone much longer than the scheduled two hours; this is because so many of us feel so strongly about Africa's energy situation.