Access to Energy: Africa

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th May 2016.

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Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Conservative, North West Norfolk 12:00 am, 4th May 2016

What steps her Department is taking to improve access to energy for the poorest people in Africa.

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development

Some 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa still do not have access to the electricity that we all take for granted, and progress towards the global goal of universal access by 2030 is too slow. We launched the Energy Africa campaign to accelerate the expansion of the household solar market and make it work for the poorest people in the world.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Conservative, North West Norfolk

Does the Minister agree that solar power can make a real difference to economic development in places such as the Sahel? What is DFID doing to assist the roll-out of off-grid solar power for countries coming out of conflict, such as South Sudan and Somalia?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development

My hon. Friend has a profound understanding of the region, and I assure him that Somalia is one of the first countries to have signed an agreement with us on the Energy Africa campaign. I hope that many others will follow.

Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn

In many African countries oil is still king, and with that comes a lot of corruption that prevents benefits from going to the poorest people in those countries. What is DFID doing to eliminate corruption, which undermines the projects, such as Energy Africa, that the Minister is talking about?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development

The hon. Gentleman makes an extremely important point. DFID has an extensive range of programmes to combat the culture of corruption, particularly in oil-producing states such as Nigeria, and an anti-corruption summit will soon be convened in London to address those specific issues.

Photo of Seema Kennedy Seema Kennedy Conservative, South Ribble

Will the Minister update the House on what role Britain can play in encouraging the private sector to invest in energy infrastructure in Africa

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development

My hon. Friend makes an important point, and the whole thrust of the Energy Africa campaign is about accelerating a market. It is not about dumping a huge amount of public money on the table or a traditional aid programme; it is about accelerating a market in which we fully expect British entrepreneurs and investors to play a leading role.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

A fundamental prerequisite to accessing energy in the poorest nations in Africa is access to clean water. What assistance do the Government give to the many charitable institutions that have proven that clean water can be delivered to millions of people in a cost-effective way?

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the need to retain ambition in making it easier to access water, and I am delighted that the UK continues to play a leading role in fulfilling our manifesto commitment of connecting another 60 million people to water during this Parliament. As he rightly points out, non-governmental organisations are an important part of delivering on that commitment.