IRENA and AUDA-NEPAD agree to advance African power interconnections

5 Sep 2023
IRENA and AUDA-NEPAD agree to advance African power interconnections

Partnership to support development of more interconnected, flexible and reliable power grid in the region, supporting concept to connect Africa’s five power pools; seeking universal electricity access by 2040 elevating continent’s installed capacity from 266GW to approx. 1,218GW

A new agreement, signed this week by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), will strive to advance regional power interconnections in Africa.

The agreement closely links power interconnection with energy access. It was signed Monday on the sideline of Africa Climate Week in Nairobi.

Interconnection and power pools

AUDA-NEPAD CEO Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas highlighted that, “the current business as usual trajectory falls significantly short of achieving universal electricity access by 2040, necessitating a substantial increase in investments to elevate the continent’s installed capacity from 266GW to approximately 1,218GW.

“To realize this ambitious target, an estimated $1.29 trillion in cumulative investments will be essential, potentially culminating in the establishment of a robust continental electricity market valued at USD 136 billion by 2040.

“It is imperative to take urgent and strategic actions to accomplish these transformative goals.”

She underscored the findings of the Continental Power Systems Masterplan (CMP), designed to provide a strategic roadmap for connecting Africa’s five power pools, emphasizing the critical need for immediate and proactive measures in Africa’s electricity sector.

Pivotal partnership

IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said: “Acknowledging that 80% of the global population without access to electricity resides in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is evident that the existing energy infrastructure cannot adequately meet the continent's needs.

“An equitable energy system is dependent upon a more interconnected, flexible and reliable power grid in the region.

“This partnership serves as a pivotal step toward achieving that objective.”

According to IRENA’s statement published Monday, the continued investments in cross-border transmission infrastructure and a deepening of electricity trade will allow African countries to accelerate their energy expansion and transition by sourcing electricity from a wide range of competitive, clean energy resources, by anchoring on the continent’s five power pools to create Africa’s Single Electricity Market.

According to IRENA, the partnership will enhance the capabilities of African countries and regional organizations through knowledge-based capacity building services, support implementation of the renewable energy projects in the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA PAP II) and allow project developers to access IRENA’s Climate Investment Platform and Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) platform.[i]

Supporting CMP

Since 2021, IRENA, in partnership with other organizations, has supported AUDA-NEPAD and African stakeholders in developing the CMP through modelling activities and a series of capacity-building activities related to energy planning in the region. The Master Plan aims to establish a long-term, continent-wide planning process for power generation and transmission that involves all five African power pools. It maps out how to utilize the vast renewable energy resources across the continent, supporting national power strategies that consider cross-border interconnections as a vital component.

The next phase of CMP will include a special focus on strengthening the planning processes and accelerating the preparation of a bankable pipeline of priority projects at both the regional and country levels. This brings an opportunity for African countries to align their energy planning processes to a pan-Africa vision and accelerate the realization of Agenda 2063.


Energy & Utilities previously reported on a Tanzanian project that is designed to facilitate power exchange between the East and Southern Africa power pools.

In an interview with Energy & Utilities, Ana Hajduka Shields, CEO of Africa GreenCo, spoke at length about the importance of the South African Power Pool (SAPP) in regional development and the challenges a developing economy faces with regard to infrastructure and investment.

David Haziri contributed reporting 

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