Energy has been identified as a major setback to development on the continent and that is one thing the African Union (AU) is making efforts to address.

The union is looking to establish uniform standards among member states in the fields of electricity, electronics and related technologies.

A continental electricity standard is on the way, Paul Johnson, the Executive Secretary of African Electrotechnical Standardisation Commission (AFSEC) of the AU, told China’s News agency, Xinhua.

Johnson said AFSEC would facilitate universal access to energy across the continent and the realisation of Africa’s Agenda 2063 - a development framework that aims to achieve a continent that is integrated, peaceful, prosperous and people-centred.

“Uniform standards enable a country to borrow machineries with uniform standards from neighbouring nations for use without hurdles,” he said.

AFSEC currently has 13 members and it is trying to mobilise another 55 African countries to join the standardisation.

It has approved 140 standards which are applicable in the continent and are monitoring how these standards work.

“Even though African countries function as sovereign states, we need efficient and sustainable standards in technical matters.

“The standardisation will enable the continent to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim at achieving affordable access to clean energy, education and healthcare by 2030 for countries around the world,” Mr Johnson explained.

He said some African countries were not familiar with SDG standards and guidelines, like what standards are necessary when a country intends to embark on rural electrification.

Johnson suggested that African countries pursuing better access to energy should avoid relying too much on old technology, and instead should use smart technology such as mini-grid, smart meters and renewable energy.

AFSEC is undertaking technical training on the set of standards, consulting stakeholders, regulators and power utilities about the required standards.