Energy Practice

Africa’s energy investment needs are acute. Less than 35 per cent of households in sub-Saharan Africa currently have access to energy, and the World Bank estimates that insufficient or unreliable power supplies costs the continent 2 per cent of GDP each year. To put this into context: Nigeria, with a population of 190 million people, consumes less electricity than London, where around 9 million people live.

African leaders and the international community have made addressing this gap a priority. It is articulated both in national government strategies and in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 7, which targets universal access to electricity by 2030.

Meeting these ambitious targets is an investment challenge. Recent developments, both financial and technological, such as the emergence of capital from the private sector and China, and rapidly decreasing costs for renewable technologies, could see universal access reached faster and more cheaply than would previously have been possible. However, this also brings increased complexity in making and delivering on investment decisions, not only from expanded choice, but also from an expanded set of competing interests promoting their technology or financing solution.

For many governments across Africa, making and implementing investment decisions is hard. Clear and realistic plans and policies need to be developed, while reforms are often needed to ensure the sector is financially viable. Achieving both of these can be extremely challenging, with vested interests, both domestic and international, trying to pull governments—whose institutional capacity is often low—in different directions. This is where our Energy Practice support comes in.

The support of the Institute has allowed the Guinean government to achieve substantial savings of more than $200 million over five years, with a positive impact on the sustainability of our public finances.

Hon. Malado Kaba Minister of Economy and Finances, Guinea

We help governments make informed decisions by linking sound technical and financial analysis to the political decision-making process. Once decisions have been made, we work with governments to engage with external parties such as investors and establish the structures and systems needed to ensure delivery.

We do this through embedding experienced energy advisers in governments, sometimes as part of a wider cross-government team (for example complementing the work of advisers in the presidency or ministry of finance), or sometimes for discrete assignments. In either case our approach is to provide trusted, impartial support to key decision-makers to make and implement decisions.

Through our Energy Practice, our advisers can bring to bear different aspects of our energy platform, including:


Our regional finance and trade model has identified around $30 billion in savings that could be achieved across West Africa through effective energy trade. This analysis is being used to support and governments to identify specific trading opportunities.


Our executive chairman, Tony Blair, chairs our Energy Senior Advisers Forum. These advisers can engage at senior levels of government to help politicians think through and address challenges. For example, we were grateful to Kandeh Yumkellah, the former secretary of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All Programme, for supporting our work in Rwanda by engaging at senior political levels and helping advance the case for a market-led rural electrification strategy.


Our practice has strong partnerships with a range of complementary actors in the sector, which we can draw on to provide rapid and short-term expert advice and support to the governments we work with. For example, we work closely with the Rocky Mountain Institute, which have supported us in deep technical analysis, and with the legal firm Herbert Smith, which have provided targeted legal support on private-sector projects.