Tony Elumelu, Akon Pledge Funds toward Reliable, Affordable Energy in Africa

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African businessman and philanthropist Tony Elumelu has called on African economic and political leaders to put an end to energy poverty on the African continent. The leaders came together on earlier this week in Abidjan under the umbrella of the African Energy Leaders Group (AELG).

The AELG was launched during the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The group brings together political and business leaders at the highest level to drive the reforms and investment needed to end energy poverty and to ensure sustainable fuel supplies on the continent.

“Providing access to electricity for schools, hospitals, businesses and industries is the single most impactful intervention that can be made to transform the continent. It has tremendous implications for job creation, health, food security, education, technological advancement and overall economic development.” Mr. Tony Elumelu said.

According to him, access for all Africans to reliable, affordable energy services and efficient appliances by 2030 is a key goal of AELG. The AELG objective of ensuring universal access to modern energy is in line with those of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative run by the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Kandeh Yumkella, one of the champions of the AELG.

“I am making a pledge to provide US$150,000 over the next three years to support the operations of the AELG secretariat,” he said. “I want to call on the governments of the member states of the ECOWAS region, and AELG members and partners to also step up with significant multi-year commitments to sustain the organization.” Following Mr. Elumelu’s lead, pop superstar, Akon, who was also in attendance at the event to promote his Lighting Africa Initiative, pledged $200,000 to support the work of the AELG secretariat.

On the closing panel for the AELG meeting where Elumelu was joined by Akon, former musicals stars, former Nigerian president Obasanjo and Kufuor, former Ghanaian President, Vice President Osinbajo, and the Prime Ministers of Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, Benin, Togo, and Niger, he challenged the public sector leaders to follow the lessons learned from the democratization of the telecoms sector to unlock growth in the power sector.

In 2013, Tony Elumelu committed to investing $2.5 billion in the power sector in Africa through President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative. Transcorp Plc, Chaired by Elumelu, acquired the largest gas powered generating plant in Nigeria, located in Ughelli, Delta State in late 2013. By the end of this year, the Transcorp Ughelli plant will be generating 1,000 MW and the company is in discussions with GE to add an additional 1,000 MW soon after.

Mr. Elumelu is a founding partner and Co-chair of the AELG. Other founding partners of AELG include Ivoirian President Allasane Ouattara; Ghanaian President John Mahama; President, African Development Bank Dr Donald Kaberuka; President and CEO, The Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; President, ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo; and President UEMOA Cheikhe Hadjibou Soumare.

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