May 8, 2015
“Over 30 African countries now face regular power shortages while access to electricity in the sub-Saharan region stands at between 15 percent and 40 percent,” said Solomon Asamoah, AfDB’s Vice President in charge of Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration, in a new report. To address this, Africa will require as much as $60 billion, over the next 25 years, to ensure power reaches its over 620 million people lacking access to decent energy supply.
The lender has already committed more than $13 billion towards upgrading the continent’s energy sector over the past two decades. But that, along with countless international investments, have yielded on marginal improvements in the last two decades. Nigeria still produces energy enough for only a quarter of its 170 million population, while South Africa and Ghana are seeking external interventions to save their dying power assets. Both were among the continent’s top-tier energy providers less than five years ago.
AFDB believes this deficit is due to ineffective use of resources as the continent has enormous clean energy potential. “Grand Inga on Congo can generate 300 TwH of hydro energy per year; enough to meet 60 percent of the continent current demand.” The dam is expected to go live between 2020 and 2025. It has a larger capacity than the world’s largest power station–Three Gorges Dam, which generates an average power of 98.8TwH.
For Asamoah, energy is a field of opportunity for Africa. “The continent has significant share of the world’s renewable energy sources, of which only a fraction is under development. Africa has the potential to leapfrog over carbon‑intensive technologies and meet most of its future energy needs from renewable sources, putting it firmly on the path to green and inclusive growth.”
The AfDB, under its new Energy Policy 2012, has continued its support for Africa, helping countries across the continent to build a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable energy sector.
The economic consequences
Lack of access to energy limits both the quality of life and the opportunities for a better livelihood. Hence, inefficient energy in Africa is partly responsible for the high poverty rate seen across the continent. Reliable power is therefore needed for the development of industries and enterprises, to create jobs and increase income levels. But African businesses suffer from high energy costs and unreliable connections that limit their competitiveness and ability to return healthy paychecks to their employees. If Africa will achieve inclusive growth and end poverty, it will need to expand access to affordable and reliable energy.
Source: Ventures Africa