Vance Center Joins Power Africa to Host its Private Sector Partners

June 2019

(Lorri Anne Meils, Corporate, and Community Engagement Advisor of Power Africa/USAID discussing Power Africa work| Photo Credit: Adaobi Egboka) 

Power Africa and the Vance Center convened a roundtable for Power Africa’s New York-based private sector partners to discuss the legal environment for the energy sector in Africa with the Power Africa Legal Fellows and Vance Center Committee members. Vance Center Committee member Antonia Stolper, her partner Denise Grant and their law firm, Shearman & Sterling, generously hosted the event.

Inosi Nyatta, Vance Center Africa Sub-Committee chair and Sullivan & Cromwell partner moderated the discussion, which began with presentations by the Power Africa Legal Fellows:

  • Lotanna Nwodo provided an overview of the regulatory structure of the Nigerian energy sector and described the various government and multilateral agency initiatives to promote investments. He concluded that, although investment in grid electricity is the ultimate solution to Nigeria’s electricity deficits, investment in off-grid power should be encouraged as a bridge solution.
  • Ejemen Ofoman outlined recent regulatory changes and market developments in Nigeria’s electricity supply system. She identified specific developments intended to promote investment in Nigeria’s off-grid market and extract value from the country’s existing on-grid generation and distribution infrastructures, such as mini-grid rural electrification, educational innovations, and distribution franchising.
  • Belinda Ongong’a presented an overview of the energy sector and investment climate in Kenya. She described the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project and the Lamu Coal Power Project to exemplify investment structures and lessons learned from the projects. She explained how the Kenyan government had developed action plans to ensure that future projects are designed and planned efficiently.

The Fellows’ presentations sparked a broader conversation on the challenges facing the power sector and the changes needed to foster an enabling environment for investment. Problems noted included contract compliance, government guarantees, energy subsidies, mini-grids, and off-grid regulations.

Roundtable participants included:

The Power Africa Legal Fellows program is part of the Vance Center’s African Legal Fellows program, which since 2002 has brought fifty-four South African, Nigerian, and Kenyan lawyers to work at international law firms and corporate legal departments in New York. The Power Africa Legal Fellow program contributes to Power Africa’s goal of strengthening human capacity to support U.S. investment in the African energy sector through public-private partnerships.

The Power Africa Legal Fellows Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Power Africa.