In the height of the Fourth Industrial Revolution with the world of technology forever evolving, I am often questioned on my infrastructure focus and if there is there any innovation in infrastructure?
I do not doubt the importance of AI, the innovation surrounding blockchain and the growing need for big data. I do, however, see the ongoing need and global struggle for infrastructure. There are still colossal blocks across the globe that need the fundamentals from roads, hospitals, school, buildings to power, particularly in the developing world.
Being strategically located in what is globally perceived as the hub of the emerging world, Dubai, I wanted my focus to be on the continent that is still relatively untouched, Africa. According to Bloomberg in May 2018, The African Development Bank is seeking investments from global pensions and commercial financiers to help fund the continent's infrastructure gap of as much as $170 billion a year.
Coupled with this investment need, Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where per-capita electricity access rates are drastically low. According to recent trends, over 60% of Sub-Saharan Africans will still lack access to electricity by 2020.
To really give you a perspective currently there are 625 million people across Africa who are still in darkness, which is roughly 70% of the entire population. Clearly, there is a harrowing need.
The statistics alone drove me to really question, why is the lack of electrification, one of our basic needs, so high in Africa and how can we bring some innovation to the power sector? This is where I started my journey, attempting to bridge the rising infrastructure gap where the need is the highest.
The world’s renewable agenda is in full force. With technological innovations across RTech to groups creating block chain solutions for smart meters it is evident, that the world will be 100% renewable ready by 2050 according to EIA.
Upon starting Access, I wanted to build a model that did not put strain on its recipients but to focus on three key points:
1) The host country’s framework, we tend to begin early within the given project and assess where the price for renewable energy is an attractive alternative.
2) To remain neutral in our technologies, this is where innovation is our playground, we work closely as a team to identify which technologies are commercially proven and also provide sustainable and affordable power to the masses.
3) Innovating financial models, the private sector need to take ownership of investing in electrification. Whilst working with investors we believe it is pivotal to create a simple framework in what is typically a bureaucratic and lengthy process. A simple yet innovative solution that we have brought is creating key standardised documents for a clear due diligence process. Beyond the commercial upside in the renewable power sector our base line fundamental is to create and make a tangible impact which will bridge Africa’s infrastructure gap.
The Access model uses these three key pillars that are poised to bring a new level of innovation to the power sector. Access is continuing to expand and grow from electrification to energy storage and now spanning across 27 countries between Africa and Asia since 2012. Globally, we are in the height of a new wave of technologies, where our play must address the global need and continue to prepare the world to be 100% green by 2050.
Investing in the world's building blocks is just as critical as understanding the potential of what blockchain technologies could become globally.
Reda El Chaar is executive chairman Access Power
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