Press Release

Africa’s Energy Renewal


Africa has some of the world’s largest and least exploited renewable energy resources.  There is a vast untapped potential in hydro-power and reserves of natural gas. The continent is richly endowed with renewable energy sources, but access to clean modern energy is still a pipedream for many Africans. However, countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa are now leading efforts to harness these energy resources. Some of Africa’s smaller countries, including Cape Verde, Djibouti, Rwanda and Swaziland have also set ambitious renewable energy targets. Most of these nations already have small-scale solar, wind, and geothermal devices in operation to provide energy.

The applications of renewable energy technology has the potential to alleviate many of the problems that face Africans on a daily basis, especially if done so in a sustainable and affordable manner. Africa has the potential to deploy modern renewables to eliminate power shortages, bring electricity and development opportunities to rural villages that have rarely enjoyed those benefits, spur industrialization, empower entrepreneurs, and support increased prosperity across the continent. In fact, clean, sustainable and affordable energy is vital for the current imperatives facing Africa in its quest for inclusive development through empowerment of women entrepreneurs, the youth, smallholder farmers, as well as small/medium enterprises.

“We must accelerate the pace of the continent’s energy renewal and transformation in accordance with our vision for economic transformation and integration. Increased investments in renewable energy would greatly expand the scope for development of low-carbon energy and effective exploitation of abundant renewable energy resources. This ultimately empowers agents of inclusivity in growth and development. This is what inspired the theme of the 46th plenary session of the African Economic Research Consortium’s (AERC) Biannual Research Workshop, which is on Africa’s Energy Renewal,” says Prof. Lemma W. Senbet, Executive Director, AERC.

The conference opens its doors at 9:00 am on Sunday June 4, 2017 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The chief Guest will be Gov. Lesetja Kganyago, Governor South African Reserve Bank. The session will feature three presentations by distinguished economists. These include: “Beyond the Grid: Engineering, Institutions and Finance” by Prof. Laurence Harris, University of London, UK; “To What Extent Do Good Policies and Governance Matter in Attracting Investment in Energy in Africa?” by Prof. Sy, Amadou Nicolas Racine, International Monetary Fund (IMF), USA; and “Renewable Electricity Generation: Implications of Cost, Returns and Investments to African Economies by Dr. Hellen Osiolo, The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), Kenya.

Discussions on these papers will be led by Dr Rabah Arezki, IMF, USA and Dr. Keith Jefferis, Econsult Botswana. Thereafter, active discussions by the participants made up of senior African policy makers, economists from all over the world, development partners and researchers from Africa and beyond will take place. A public/private sector policy roundtable is also scheduled later to wind up the activities for the day.

Concurrent sessions of the workshop start on Monday June 5, 2017. They will feature 85 presentations of research proposals, work in progress, final reports and PhD theses proposals. These will cover a wide range of topics that fit into the focal areas of AERC’s thematic research programme namely:  Group A: Poverty, Labour Markets and Income Distribution; Group B: Macroeconomic Policy and Growth; Group C: Finance and Resource Mobilization; Group D: Production, Trade and Economic Integration; and Group E: Agriculture, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management.

AERC will also play host to one back-to-back workshop during this period at the same venue:

  • There will be the AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop. This workshop will be held on June, 9-11, 2017 with upto 25 participants and policy makers taking part. The objective of the workshop is to build capacity and skills in communicating research to maximize uptake of research outputs and impact.

Special sesssions will also be conducted on various topics on different days:

  • The first will be one on Global and Regional Value Chains in Southern and Eastern Africa: How to Best Harness the Potential for Regional Cooperation – by Talitha Bertelsmann-Scott, Asmita Parshotam, Chelsea Markowitz of South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and Reena das Nair, Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED). This will take place on Monday, June 5, 2017.
  • There will also be another special session by The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

Each of the AERC’s biannual research workshops attracts about 200 researchers, academics, and policy makers who participate in the Research Programme. The workshops provide a forum in which the participants can meet each other within a worldwide network of professionals, and deal with issues relevant to Africa’s economic development. They also provide an opportunity for monitoring the progress and quality of the various research projects sponsored by AERC, thereby fulfilling one of its major mandates – to strengthen local capacity for conducting independent, rigorous inquiry into problems facing the management of economies in sub-Saharan Africa.

About African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)

African Economic Research Consortium, established in 1988, is a premier capacity building institution in the advancement of research and training to inform economic policies in sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of the most active Research and Capacity Building Institutions (RCBIs) in the world, with a focus on Africa. AERC’s mission rests on two premises: First, that development is more likely to occur where there is sustained sound management of the economy. Second, that such management is more likely to happen where there is an active, well-informed cadre of locally-based professional economists to conduct policy-relevant research. AERC builds that cadre through a programme that has three primary components: research, training and policy outreach. The organization has now emerged as a premier capacity building network institution integrating high quality economic policy research, postgraduate training and policy outreach within a vast network of researchers, universities and policy makers across Africa and beyond. AERC has increasingly received global acclaim for its quality products and services, and is ranked highly among global development think tanks.

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For more information about this workshop or AERC, please contact:

The Executive Director
African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
Middle East Bank Towers, 3rd Floor, Jakaya Kikwete Road,
Tel: (+254-20) 273-4150 / 273-4157
Fax: (+254-20) or

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