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Access and Energy in Africa

October 2, 2018

Andrew Herscowitz, US Coordinator for Power Africa
Moderated by Johannes Urpelainen, Director and Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment
Founding Director, Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP)

On October 2, the US Coordinator for Power Africa, Andrew Herscowitz, visited the school to deliver his insight on key progress in Africa’s energy access. Power Africa is now the world’s largest partnership for development with 160 public and private partners who have committed $54 billion to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

With regard to new developments in the power market, Herscowitz was fascinated by the rise of off-the-grid base. Yet while micro-grids have been hailed as the new evolution in recent years, he explained that this system has not yet proven to be viable. As data has become more critical in driving innovation, gathering and analyzing data is going to be the desirable skill set to lead successful on-grid and off-grid systems, he said. In offering advice on how Johns Hopkins SAIS students can participate in building energy access delivery, Herscowitz applauded the numerous Johns Hopkins SAIS alumnae who live and work in Africa and encouraged tomorrow’s graduates to bring their expertise to the continent because living in the local marketplace is the best way to learn the needs of these customers.

Herscowitz drew from his experiences in different markets in Africa to point out the distinct policy challenges each country presents. “In different countries, as you start getting closer to elections, things are becoming more unpredictable. What we are trying to do is make sure the deals supported by Power Africa are sustainable and negotiated in a transparent manner” he said.

The school community congratulated Herscowitz and the Power Africa team upon the announcement—made public the same day—that they had won the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (known as the "Sammy"), as the 2018 National Security and International Affairs Winner, awarded by the Partnership for Public Service.

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