For the first time in years, access to electricity will plummet in Africa this year because of the Covid-19 crisis, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency has told AFP.

However, Fatih Birol has stressed the “enormous potential” in solar energy on the continent, if it can attract investors. The International Energy Agency boss was speaking on the occasion of a virtual ministerial forum co-organized with the African Union Tuesday.

He told the global news agency in an interview that investments in the power sector on the continent is expected to fall by 30 percent this year. Because governments had other priorities, with investors concerned about increased risks, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Birol added that oil dependent African nations like Angola have an enormous opportunity to use other sources of energy like solar and natural gas.

Last week, an analysis in the World Energy Outlook 2020 showed that the pandemic has been affecting steady progress made to up access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. It said ‘’ Sub-Saharan Africa, home to three-quarters of the almost 800 million people who lack access to electricity in the world, bear the brunt of the reversal’’.

Since 2013, the report noted that the number of people without access to electricity on the continent has been falling. It cited progress made in countries like Kenya, Senegal, Rwanda and Ghana that embarked on strong electricity access policies and rooted for off-grid initiatives.

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