Africa’s energy transition – finding the right mix to drive economic prosperity
With the continent’s population expected to double by 2100, this creates a daunting energy challenge, combined with rising expectations for increased resilience and sustainability. Finding a sustainable way to meet growing energy needs is one of the main development challenges.
While Africa is rich in renewable energy sources, it must also lift nearly 500 million people out of poverty, according to the United Nations (https://bit.ly/3KopdPH). These and other challenges will be in the spotlight as heads of state, business leaders, energy experts and investors gather at the African Oil Week and Africa Green Energy Summit (https://Africa-OilWeek.com) in Cape Town, on October 3. – 7th this year.
In this case, decisions about the correct energy mix will have far-reaching consequences. Endowed with hydrocarbon and substantial renewable energy resources, Africa can adopt innovative and sustainable technologies and play a leading role in global action to shape a sustainable energy future. In addition to AOW, the Africa Green Energy Summit will take place at the same time and in the same place.
“As organizers of the event, we realize that Africa needs energy solutions ranging from traditional oil and gas to renewable energy,” says Paul Sinclair, vice president of energy at AOW.
“We want delegates to be able to engage on a 360-degree basis and explore the best opportunities for their markets,” he says.
Supporting a renewable future for Africa
Renewable energies offer Africa the opportunity to take a leap towards a sustainable and prosperous future. Increasing access to reliable, affordable and clean energy resources is a key priority, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Around 600 million people in Africa still do not have access to energy, representing 48 percent of the continent’s population of nearly 1.2 billion. The accelerated deployment of renewable energy creates jobs and brings health benefits. The renewable energy sector today employs 10.3 million people worldwide. With forward-looking industrial policies and targeted skills development, millions of new jobs can be created in Africa. Doubling the share of renewables by 2030 would create additional economic value by increasing global gross domestic product by up to 1.1 percent. This would mean a 3.7% improvement in global welfare and employment for more than 24 million people in the renewable energy sector. This would allow more economic benefits, such as better health care services, especially in more remote areas.
Unreliability of supply is a concern holding back economic development, with most countries facing frequent blackouts.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) ‘Scaling Up Renewable Energy Deployment in Africa’ report, Africa could meet nearly a quarter of its energy needs with clean, indigenous renewables by 2030. Modern renewables amounting to 310 GW could provide half of the continent’s total electricity generating capacity. This corresponds to a sevenfold increase in the currently available capacity, which amounted to 42 GW. A transformation of this scale in Africa’s energy sector would require an average annual investment of $70 billion through 2030, resulting in carbon dioxide emission reductions of up to 310 megatonnes per year.
Meanwhile, hydrocarbons will continue to supply the rest of Africa’s energy needs until green energy forms the basis of the continent’s energy demands. Carbon-based fuels are, of course, increasingly undesirable. However, it must be remembered that Africa produces less than 3.8% of the planet’s greenhouse gases. When it comes to climate change, Africa has the smallest footprint globally.
According to the late global health expert and statistician, Hans Rosling, the richest billion people contribute to more than half of all CO2 emissions (https://bit.ly/3KwNd30). This puts the responsibility to reduce carbon emissions squarely in the court of developed countries.
signs of hope
In West Africa, the new Regional Electricity Access and Battery Energy Storage Technologies (BEST) Project, supported by $465 million from the World Bank Group, will increase grid connections in fragile areas of the Sahel, build capacity of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA), and strengthen the operation of the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) network with infrastructure of battery energy storage technologies. This is a pioneering move that paves the way for increased renewable energy generation, transmission and investment across the region.
Over the past decade, the World Bank has financed nearly $2.3 billion in infrastructure investments and reforms in support of WAPP, seen as the key to achieving universal access to electricity by 2030 in the 15 ECOWAS countries. This new project builds on progress and will finance civil works to speed up access in Mauritania, Niger and Senegal
Last year, the World Bank approved a $500 million loan from the International Development Association (IDA) to support Ethiopia’s goal of achieving universal access to electricity by 2025. Over the past decade, the Government of Ethiopia has achieved encouraging progress in its electrification program and has expanded the power grid. coverage to almost 60% of cities and towns. Despite this progress, Ethiopia has the third largest energy access deficit in sub-Saharan Africa with more than half of the population still without access to reliable electricity, especially in deep rural areas that rely on biomass and kerosene. The electricity deficit in Ethiopia continues to exacerbate poverty, preventing too many people from meeting their basic socio-economic needs and limiting access to opportunity.
Africa cannot follow the same energy path as the developed world, nor can it afford to ignore its natural energy resources in favor of green energy solutions if it is to achieve its goals of economic and social improvement.
As the lowest contributor to climate change, Africa must be given the freedom to develop a fair and equitable energy mix of hydrocarbons and renewables to achieve economic growth, reduce child mortality and enhance social uplift in its nation states.
Courtesy of NNN – Full Article