By Desta Mebratu
Despite being a continent with abundant energy resources, a great chunk of the African population still lacks access to electricity. This could change by focusing on the use of distributed energy resources, writes Desta Mebratu (Prof.) (, CEO of African Transformative Leapfrogging Advisory Service.

The closing event of the Nelson Mandela International Day for 2018 was marked together with the centenary of the famous South African’s birthday at the Global Citizens Festival held this past weekend. The Nelson Mandela Foundation dedicated this year’s celebration to the fundamentally important issue of the eradication of poverty in Africa.

During this festival, key development partners, including the Gates Foundation and the World Bank, pledged support for Africa with a particular focus on the education and health sector. This will make a major contribution toward building the required social capital for development in the region.</p

However, if we wish to make any meaningful dent on poverty in the region, such efforts by foundations, governments and international institutions on building social capital need to be coupled with addressing the prevailing energy poverty in the region. More than 600 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity, and approximately 730 million people rely on traditional uses of waste material from plants and animals, according to the International Energy Agency. This is despite Africa being a continent endowed with relatively abundant renewable energy resources that are yet to be developed.

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