Thirteen percent of the world's population lives in Africa. According to the International Energy Agency, these 915 million people use no more than 4 % of the energy. But the population is set to more than double until 2050, and so will the continents energy needs.Lack of energy in the21st century also prevents access to the global economy.
Without energy there are no mobile phones, no internet, no transportation, no production - to mention just some of the key ingredients driving economic life in the developed world.So why is energy production so low in Africa? And what can be done to change it? This was addressed in a recent series of articles as well as a live chat session with the Guardian that I participated in.
There are no simple answers to these questions because Sub-Saharan Africa itself is highly diverse in its economic and energy development. For example there are currently roughly 70,000 MW of installed energy production capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa, of which around 44,000 MW is generated in South Africa. All other countries up to the Sahara therefore have less than 40 % at their disposal.The gap cannot be filled by governments alone.
The IEA estimates that US$450 billion will be needed just to reduce power outages by half and providing electricity for everyone in all the urban areas. In order to fill the delta between what countries can finance by themselves, and what is actually needed private investors must come in. So what is must happen to incentivice private investors? Private investors look for a safe financial return. To create an environment where this is assured, the Guardian panel as well as the IEA argue for the following: deeper regional co-operation and integration, facilitating new large-scale generation and transmission projects, and enabling a further expansion in cross-border trade. better management of resources and revenues on a country level, especially adopting a robust and transparent processes that allows for more effective use of oil and gas revenues to invest into energy infrastructure.
In addition, we recommended during the live chat reasonable pricing for energy delivery; clear and transparent legal frameworks;and the exploitation of rich renewable energy resources across the continent on the big as well as on the small decentralized scale. Once the right regulatory framework is implemented the right projects in the pipeline should thrive.If this is not done the energy prospects for Africa – along with the economic outlook for the broader population - are dire. But as the Guardian series of articles shows, there are more and more examples coming up, which proof that it can be done.
So putting the lights on Africa is possible- we only need to get the framework right!
Category: Sustainable energy