NAIROBI, April 6 (Xinhua) -- African countries will need to integrate their energy for sustainable economic development and post-COVID-19 economic recovery, experts said in Nairobi Tuesday.
The experts from academia and Africa Union, among others, said that energy as an economic and social input was central to the attainment of Africa's sustainable development as envisaged by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number seven.
"Africa needs to reflect on how regional energy integration contributes to energizing its economic recovery program and attainment of sustainable development," said Kenneth Mbali, a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies (IDIS) of the University of Nairobi, during the webinar organized by the institution.
The experts observed that although Africa has tremendous potential, more than 600 million people lack electricity. And those who are connected pay more for the commodity, stifling growth, they said.
"Africans pay 10 percent more for energy than the rest of the world and the COVID-19 pandemic is making it worse," said Zerubabel Tefera, an international relations scholar at the University of Nairobi.
Tefera added that the pandemic has slowed Africa's economic recovery and sustainable development.
Given Africa's weak political, economic and social structures, the post-COVID-19 impact on the continent is likely to be more devastating than in other regions, said Maria Nzomo, director at the University of Nairobi's IDIS.
According to Nzomo, it's estimated that after the pandemic, 23 million more Africans will fall below the poverty line and the number of people living on food aid will nearly double.
"There is an urgent need for a regional energy integration strategy and approach to serving as an essential enabler for the overall development of the energy sector that would in turn contribute to ensuring energy security for sustained economic and social development in Africa," she said.
Sylvain Degolmal, a principal energy expert at the African Union, said the body is leveraging on technology to promote energy integration across Africa, including by initiating an energy integration information system for member states.
The experts, however, said that insecurity and lack of infrastructure in the continent were enormous challenges to the integration. Enditem