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Energy experts mull investment opportunities

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8 – Investors, financial institutions and policy makers in the energy sector are on Monday meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to identify investment opportunities in the sector.

The East African Energy Conference will be looking at ways to improve access to reliable power supplies and reducing energy costs.

Energy supply in the East African region is characterised by high rate of power rationing, high energy prices and low electrification rates, further increasing the cost of doing business in the region. 

“For example the price of cement from any port in Asia is lower than cement produced in East Africa,” a statement from the East African Business Council read in part.

The prime obstacle for business in East Africa is the high price of electricity, which is 5-10 times higher than in Egypt or South Africa,” Charles Mbogori, the Executive Director of the East African Business Council (EABC) said.

“EABC has therefore identified the energy sector as a priority area for action.”

He explained that the East African Energy Master Plan Strategy is to exploit resources and to share power among the countries through the creation of inter-connectors for power transmission, identify viable opportunities for generating more electricity from hydro in Uganda, geothermal in Kenya or natural gas in Tanzania.

Mr Mbogori however said that investments in the energy sector are to a large extent still controlled by the public sector, which still struggles to deliver the capacity to cover the rapidly increasing demand.

He observed that current energy policies in many partner states are not well developed and do not provide incentives for private sector investment.

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Mr Mbogori said that the aim of the conference is to look at the current policy framework with the aim of developing policies that will accelerate private sector investments in the energy sector.

“Developing a good policy framework is necessary to encourage capital investment in the energy sector,” he observed.

The Executive Director said that the conference is also expected to come up with practical solutions to solve the current energy crisis in the short and medium term.

The East Africa Community is abundant with energy resources such as hydropower but also geothermal, solar and bio-energy. However, its energy sector is largely reliant on conventionally generated energy.

Electricity accounts for just 10 percent of energy consumption in East Africa.

“Renewable energy sources could play an important role in ensuring secure long-term sustainable energy supplies and in addition reduce the cost of doing business,” Mr Mbogori said.

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