Promoting affordable energy in Africa would increase stability on the continent, FairPlay founder Francois Baird has told an international gathering of parliamentarians.
Baird addressed the Parliamentary Intelligence – Security Forum (PI-SF) which met this year in Panama in February. Several hundred parliamentarians from around the world attended the event.
He drew a link between the lack of access to energy in developing states, particularly in Africa, and weakened food security and stability.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 600 million people in Africa, or 43% of the total population, lacked access to electricity. Most of them were in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Fragile States Index of 2022 of the Fund for Peace showed that low energy access and weak food security contributed to countries becoming fragile states.
“Even South Africa, the most industrialised African state is becoming more fragile due to a lack of access to electricity and power.” Baird said.
The solution to increased stability in Africa was the promotion of affordable energy, he said, providing base-load power for industrial development. This needed to be supported by investments in rule-of-law institutions, trade with Africa that was not predatory but adhered to World Trade Organisation standards, and more market-based development solutions.
He encouraged support for commercial agriculture in Africa, which would support food security.
Baird challenged policymakers and leaders to “stand on the side of the people” by unleashing the creative and entrepreneurial energy of ordinary Africans to build a better, more stable future.
He set out nine “action steps for Africa” that would help achieve this goal. These were:
- Reliable energy supply to industry.
- Stop predatory trade policies.
- National and regional food & energy security.
- Agricultural and industrial innovation.
- Empower rule of law institutions against corruption.
- Market solutions & private ownership.
- African jobs.
- Sustain rural livelihoods.
- Support farmers & food producers.