From 20-23 June 2023, Nairobi, Kenya welcomed investors, stakeholders, and future energy leaders from Africa and across the world to the 25th Africa Energy Forum (aef) and the second Youth Energy Summit (YES!).
Session topics highlighted the journey toward sustainable energy solutions in Africa. These included ambitious project pipelines for renewable energy; the evolving role of gas in Africa’s energy landscape; energy transition within the mining sector; managing financial flows and mitigating risks in dynamic markets; financing mechanisms and Africa’s potential as a global hydrogen hub; building regional power markets for cross-border electricity trade; and the interconnectedness of mining, critical minerals, and energy.
Over the past quarter-century, aef has established itself as the preeminent gathering of African energy decision-makers. It serves as a platform for forging partnerships, identifying opportunities, and driving progress in the continent’s energy sector. This year was the first time that the conference was hosted on the African mainland.
“As aef sponsors, we’re proud to have been part of an event that sparks dialogue, ignites innovation, and propels sustainable energy solutions. The connections made and ideas exchanged are pushing us all towards a brighter, greener, and more empowered energy future for Africa,” said Adam Cortese, CEO of renewable energy solutions provider Sun Africa, the Forum Sponsor of aef.
The conference was opened by Kenya’s President, Dr William Ruto. Officially endorsed by Cabinet Secretary for Energy&Petroleum, Davis Chirchir, over 300 speakers and more than 2,300 participants discussed projects and partnerships and promoted business development and investment opportunities.
“Kenya’s recent historic feat in hosting the first Africa Energy Forum in the continent fills us with immense pride. It is a reflection on the growing importance of our nation in shaping the continent’s energy dialogue,” said Frank D. Ochieng, Marketing and Corporate Communication Manager, KenGen.
aef coincided with the 10-year anniversary of Power Africa, a U.S. government-led partnership aimed at ending energy poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. To mark the occasion, USAID Administrator, Samantha Power, announced a new $US89 million investment in clean energy for East and Central Africa.
A platform for Africa’s future energy leaders
For the second consecutive year, the Youth Energy Summit (YES!) ran alongside aef. “Over 1,000 delegates from 28 countries attended YES!. These included early career professionals, entrepreneurs, students, and educators, boosting the skills, connections, and business readiness of a new generation of African energy leaders,” said Simon Gosling, Managing Director, EnergyNet.
YES! offered participants a forum to build relationships with peers, learn from global technology providers like Meta, and be inspired by those shaping the future of energy in Africa. KenGen was joined by its foundational partner, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP). GEAPP hosted the YES! Youthpreneurs Energy Showdown, where contestants proposed solutions to some of the challenges facing the implementation of sustainable energy. The winner, Mercy Kyalo’s Felon Green Ventures, received a $US5,000 investment into the business, which is focused on producing large-scale e-cooking equipment for schools and colleges.
YES! also saw the launch of a digital platform, Beyond Privilege, giving young people the opportunity to engage with YES! initiatives all year round, from anywhere on the continent. Features will include interactive discussions, online workshops, information on business planning, jobs, and funding, as well as industry insights and news.
Partnerships to power Africa
Several organizations signed memorandums of understanding aimed at private sector support for Africa in meeting its climate, clean-energy access, and just energy transition goals. These included USAID Power Africa, African Trade&Investment Development Insurance, Africa50, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the African Development Bank.
“When President Obama launched Power Africa in 2013, his aim was to build partnerships between the U.S. government and public and private partners to end energy poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Ten years later, Power Africa has helped connect over 180 million people in the region, boosting incomes, powering business, and strengthening communities,” said David Thompson, Acting Coordinator, USAID Power Africa.
Also announced was the acquisition by ENGIE and Meridiam of BTE Renewables, a leading renewable energy company in South Africa and Kenya, as well as the launch of the 2023 Gridworks Development Report.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Two Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented, recognizing impact and leadership in the sector. Andrew Herscowitz, the first USAID Power Africa Coordinator, and Chief Development Officer at U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, was awarded in recognition of his proven record in political leadership and business creation, which has created hundreds of partnerships, rallied billions in investment capital, and increased energy access across the continent by over 10 million new connections. The second recipient was Kweku Awotwi, one of the true titans of Africa’s energy, industry, and finance sectors, who has been Chair and CEO of multiple companies that sit at the apex of these sectors.
The next Africa Energy Forum will take place from 3-6 June 2024 at the Tonino Lamborghini International Convention Center, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of EnergyNet Ltd..