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Africa Working Group initiatives

03 May 2023, by Antonio Iliceto, SC C1 Chairperson and Africa WG Chair, and Kurt Dedekind, SC C6 Chair, and Secretary of the Africa WG
Africa Working Group initiatives Africa Working Group initiatives


Background to the Africa Working Group


The Africa Working Group was established in 2018 as a formally constituted initiative between the World Bank and CIGRE. It was established to address the following challenges that still exist in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which contains the largest number and percentage of people who still do not have access to electricity. Africa is developing rapidly economically and with the associated high population growth it means that the electricity system development should be especially strong. African people without electricity are spread over many different countries where the central institutions often struggle with resource and skill deficits. Differently from other parts of the world, current population densities in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are low and make the extension of grid-based electrification expensive under many scenarios. The Region can thus benefit particularly from the ongoing energy system paradigm shifts of cheaper renewable energy, digitalization, including viable microgrid control, and ever better understanding of the role of markets versus monopolies in electricity systems. The continent is however endowed with massive hydro, wind and solar natural resources thus making international or even intercontinental interconnections especially attractive – This could also positively affect renewable energy integration with Europe and the Middle East.


CIGRE’s activities in Africa


CIGRE has many work products and recommendations for the development of electricity supply and access to electricity, but no comprehensive structures to support this in Sub-Saharan Africa. The World Bank has a strong focus on African electricity system developments. The World Bank staff have accordingly the challenge to prioritize which infrastructure investments have the best multi-criteria benefit/cost ratios. It is for this reason that close collaboration between CIGRE, and the World Bank provides a means to move this forward in Africa. Together, the World Bank and CIGRE have established a process for the enhancement of know-how transfer for Africa based on providing access to unbiased, up-to-date technical experience in several innovative ways.


The CIGRE/World Bank Africa Working Group manages this systematic dissemination effort of CIGRE work outcomes to managers, engineers, and planners in Africa. This fits well with the CIGRE goal of “Sustainable Electricity for All”.


CIGRE and the World Bank will thus co-operate to achieve the following general goals:

  • Transfer of knowledge to facilitate development of the electricity sector and capacity building especially of young professionals.
  • Definition of a financial framework for training, workshops, and implementation. related consulting, for topics related to CIGRE work products, aimed to address cost and efficiency concerns of African countries and the World Bank.


The Africa Working Group surveyed Study Committee’s work resulting in a wide selection of resources that are applicable for sub-Saharan African power sector development right now. Resources include:

  • More than 100 Technical Brochures and other publications on a wide variety of topics
  • More than 50 Tutorials on a range of topics to assist development of expertise
  • More than 70 Working Groups on applicable topics (current or planned)
  • 15 Lectures or Workshops
  • More than 50 experts willing to assist power sector development in sub-Saharan Africa


These provide a good foundation for a Capability and Resource Catalogue to assist sub-Saharan African power sector development. Partnerships are to be created with some of the following

bodies in Africa:

  • African Power Pools
  • Universities & Research Centers
  • African Electricity Organizations
  • Development Banks
  • Government Energy Agencies and Regulators eg AFUR


How is CIGRE facilitating all this?


CIGRE has facilitated several engagements within sub-Saharan Africa in its quest to share its knowledge. The West African National CIGRE Committee was established in 2021 and has accordingly opened new avenues for knowledge-sharing in this sub-region. Study Committees have also participated in the knowledge-sharing initiative and the following significant interventions have taken place in recent years:

  • SC B3 – Workshop on Cost Effective Substation Design
  • SC B2 – Workshop on Overhead line design
  • SC C3 – Workshop on environmental consideration for Transmission corridors
  • SC C1/ C5 – Regulations for Interconnectors in the WAPP regions
  • SC C3 – Regulations for Climate Change for Africa


Significantly the African Working Group intends to broaden the CIGRE footprint in Africa and is hoping to establish CIGRE National Committee’s in both the East African, and Central African sub-regions. The Working Group is also engaging some Universities in an endeavour to create a CIGRE Academy. It is hoped that such a conduit will enable formal platforms to be established via which the CIGRE knowledge may be shared via workshops, tutorials, and virtual webinar sessions. During 2023, Technical Brochure 835 on Rural Electrification will be unpacked in greater detail with some Universities in East Africa, and it is hoped that these workshops will stimulate further engagements with the students and interested stakeholders. Study Committee members are thus encouraged to contact the authors of this article should they be interested in assisting with any of the afore mentioned initiatives in the years ahead.


Concluding remarks


It is evident that a high economic growth rate in Africa needs reliable power as an enabler to achieve high growth and development rates on the continent. Digitalization will allow Africa to leapfrog development steps and use the latest technology and control systems for its power systems. Africais blessed with an abundance of natural resources which through innovative market designs and structures can stand to benefit local industry and its residents.


CIGRE and the World Bank provide a platform for capacity building in Africa. This may be realised via the establishment of National Committees and Regional Councils. Collaboration in Study Committee and Working Group activities are hoped to stimulate the quest for knowledge to facilitate the aim of Universal Access to Electricity for All in Africa.