International Development Minister Nick Hurd met with leaders last month from across Africa to discuss the UK's Energy Africa campaign.
Ethiopia is the latest country to back the campaign, which aims to accelerate universal energy access in sub-Saharan Africa. They pledged to boost solar energy access in a deal signed with Britain at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.
An estimated 5 million households in Ethiopia lack regular electricity access. This not only disrupts daily life but is also a barrier to the country's economic growth. Across Africa, outages cost countries 1-2% of their annual GDP.
Speaking from the African Union Summit, Nick Hurd said:
"At the current rate, it will be 2080 before everyone in Africa has the access to energy that we take for granted in the UK. Right now, two thirds of Africans have no electricity at all. This not only holds back individuals, but entire nations, and is why we are working in partnership with Africa to rapidly expand the solar energy sector.
"In Ethiopia I saw for myself the difference that household solar capability can make to an entire family. Affordable, reliable electricity means children can do their homework after dark, women and girls are safer at night, and families are not forced to rely on expensive and toxic kerosene. And more than that – the mobile payments system, which is core to this solar technology, means people without bank accounts can access finance and build a credit history for the very first time.
"More and more countries in Africa are joining the Energy Africa campaign. This new agreement with Ethiopia is another step towards overcoming the barriers stifling the household solar market and transforming the prospects of hundreds of millions of people."
With the support of countries like Ethiopia, the Energy Africa campaign will help achieve universal energy access by 2030.
The time to act is now, and the campaign is building on shifts already underway in the household solar market: the cost of solar power has crashed; battery technology has improved; appliances are more efficient; and crucially, the spread of mobile payment systems means people can pay for their energy with a simple text.
Since the launch of the campaign, African support has continued to grow. Ethiopia joins Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and Somalia who have already pledged to join Africa's solar revolution.
The Minister's visit comes after a trip to Northern Ethiopia in December where he saw how humanitarian support from Britain is already helping millions of families get the emergency food they so desperately need to survive.