Increasing Energy Access and Building Regional Energy Markets Across East Africa

East Africa is well known for a stunning natural landscape and spectacular tourist safaris that traverse a menagerie of exotic wildlife. It’s less well known for its industrial and commercial outputs. In fact, the burgeoning industrial and commercial sectors of many East African nations are hamstrung by a variety of impediments to economic growth, including the lack of affordable, reliable electricity service.

Historically, energy consumption and economic growth increase in lockstep, in what recent analyses show are a virtuous cycle: increased and intensified use of energy in production leads to economic growth, which in turn increases demand—and ability to pay—for more energy.

Over the next four years, RTI International will partner with Power Africa in East Africa to catalyze reforms in the entire energy sector of Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. We will also be engaging in Uganda, Somaliland, Eritrea, Djibouti, Burundi, and eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In each of these countries, our work continues the impressive work begun under the ambitious Power Africa Transactions and Reform Program (PATRP). The East Africa Energy Program (EAEP) has four important objectives:

  • Ensure partner countries enjoy an optimized power supply that prioritizes the lowest-cost forms of generation and ensures that robust planning matches the supply of new energy to growing demand.

  • Increase the number of customers—both households and industrial/commercial customers—that are able to connect to the utility grid, and make these connections cheaper and faster than ever before.

  • Support the electric utilities that provide electricity to customers, putting in place state-of-the-art processes and equipment that improve their financial stability and allow them to offer better customer service, thereby transforming them into modern, fully sustainable entities that operate on private-sector principles.

  • Support all East African nations as they integrate their national electrical systems with each other, forming a market for the exchange of electricity and increasing reliability while simultaneously driving down costs to consumers.

None of the first three objectives could realistically be achieved in isolation, as new grid customers strengthen utility balance sheets, which in turn requires more diversified generation sources to deliver the power customers demand. But by supporting regional integration, the progress made in one country can be effectively made available to all countries via interconnection.

By aiding in economic development in East Africa, this program will add employment opportunities that can be taken advantage of by women, building industry with female engagement. A larger demand for employees will lead students to continue educational avenues that will keep youth in school. Increased economic stability will also decrease negative aspects of poverty such as gender violence, poor health, and sanitation.

The East Africa Power Program is expected to run through December 2023. We are proud to support the U.S. government in this ambitious and game-changing initiative, and we are proud to be at the heart of reforms that will bring energy to millions of East Africans who in turn will put it to productive use.