Accra – Africa’s energy demand is forecast to dramatically expand as rapid urbanisation and economic growth push consumption to new heights. Yet the continent is currently plagued by poor power infrastructures and chronic power shortages.
According to the World Bank less than a quarter of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity. And on average, African economies lose 2.1% of GDP as a result of power shortages annually.
A rise in the global price of crude oil has left African economies with a reduced budget for investment in other areas. Even countries which are relatively on track to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), such as Senegal, will see their commitment to the MDGs called into question by the high expenditure on oil imports. In Senegal, oil imports total 8.5% of its GDP, more than the budget allocation of its health and education sectors combined.
Changing global directions: towards green growth:
- With Africa’s current energy model reaching breaking point, governments are increasingly open to new sustainable development approaches to meet the needs of its rapidly growing economies.
- The recent Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development amplified calls for the establishment of a “green economy”. The green economy framework is widely regarded as having the potential to transform the region from a net energy importer to placing it in control of energy consumption through the use of renewable energy sources, notably solar power. Moreover, sustainable land management – a key principle of the green economy mantra – will not exacerbate the effects of climate change.
- Heads of state, backed by regional institutions such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU), indicate a growing consensus in favour of these methods.
Laying the foundation for sustainable growth: … //
… Prospects for a Green Africa:
- Africa’s endowment of natural resources makes it a prime candidate for this switch. It has a vast potential for wind and solar power generation. And global investment in renewable energy has increased significantly, rising to $211 billion in 2010. Africa recorded the largest jumps in financing in comparison to other developing regions. Chinese financing has reached $1.7 billion per year, overtaking official development assistance.
- But much will depend on whether countries value the long-term over the short-term and procuring suitable investment. Can Africa shake off the shackles of its dependence on oil imports? It is time political rhetoric translates into tangible gains for the energy sectors.
Understanding Northern Mali: Local Context is Everything, on all Africa, by Peter Tinti, August 28, 2012.