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Many of the problems faced by the energy sector in Africa can be traced back to developments within the oil and gas and electricity sub-sectors which have accounted for a large proportion of energy investments in the region. A distinctive feature of the region's energy sector in the wake of independence was, with the exception of the nationalised petroleum and power utilities, the absence of a coherent and all-embracing institutional infrastructure for energy policy formulation, analysis, monitoring and implementation.

Coordination of activities within the energy sector was almost non-existent. Biomass energy which was, and still is, used by the overwhelming majority received virtually no policy attention (Bachou, 1990; Karekezi and Ranja, 1997). Due to the prevailing low oil prices, little attention was given to energy policy and related environmental considerations.

In the 1960s, the development of the energy sector was confined to increasing the supply of conventional fuels such as petroleum and electricity. Major refineries and electric generating stations were built in several African countries based on the optimistic assumption that Africa was set to experience substantial growth in its industrial and agricultural sectors. In brief, a supply-oriented energy strategy demonstrated by the rapid growth of investment in the oil and gas and electricity sub-sectors dominated this era. It is, however, noteworthy that many of the large power sector investments made in this period have proven to be very productive assets that continue to provide essential supplies of modern energy to many African countries. 

Since then, the key events of the energy sector can be grouped into three distinct phases mainly linked to developments in the oil and gas sub-sector. The first phase coincides with the response by African countries to the first oil price rise in 1973. The second oil price rise in 1979 marks the beginning of the second phase. The era of low oil prices combined with a growing economic crisis  starting in the mid-1980s to date, marks the third phase.  

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