•$25bn annual investment needed for sustainable energy in Africa
Africa’s energy security has worsened with 25 million more people in Nigeria and other parts of the continent now living without electricity than before the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.
Over 640 million Africans have no access to energy, corresponding to an electricity access rate for African countries at just over 40 per cent, the lowest in the world, the agency stated further.
Per capita consumption of energy in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) is 180 kwh, compared to 13,000 kwh per capita in the United States and 6,500 kWh in Europe.
Nigeria has Africa’s largest population and economy, but Nigerians consume 144 kwh per capita of power.
Citing ‘overlapping crises,’ the IEA noted that investments of up to $25 billion per annum were required to sustainably ensure modern and affordable energy for all Africans, within the next 10 years.
In its Africa Energy Outlook 2022 report, which was released yesterday, the IEA stated that renewables, especially solar power, offers huge potential for Africa to achieve electrification targets in a cost-effective manner.
The special report noted that even with the most expansive solar resources in the world, the continent represents less than one per cent of the global total in solar energy installations.
At a webinar hosted by the IEA, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA explained: “Connecting grids will be very important for Africa to address energy access and affordability issues. Huge amounts of renewable energy resources mean big potential for green hydrogen development in Africa.”
Birol added that green hydrogen production costs could prove most cost-effective and key to addressing African energy needs, while offering opportunities as a commodity capable of competing with Europe’s domestic production, appropriately monetising the African continent’s energy resources.
According to the report, with four per cent, more people in Africa living without access to electricity in 2021 compared to 2019, the situation was worsening in 2022, due to eastern European geopolitical tensions and the knock-on effect of upticks in financial pressure on African utilities. This, it stated has caused both increased blackouts and exacerbated poverty in the continent, which further flags the role of multilateral financial institutions as vital to boosting Africa’s energy sector.
Commenting on the need for Africa to diversify its energy mix using hydrocarbons, Birol added that: “Africa has substantial amounts of gas reserves in different countries. More than 5 000 billion cubic metres (bcm) has been discovered but not yet developed and if developed, could bring up to 90 bcm of gas into the market by 2030.”
Birol stated that the volumes could help meet domestic energy needs for important industries such as fertiliser, steel, cement and water desalination in tandem with reducing emissions from power generation.
Highlighting the role that Africa could play in fast-tracking energy transition targets, aligned to global objectives, she reiterated that, “Africa is a home for critical minerals such as copper, lithium and cobalt which are essential for solar. Of the top three minerals which are essential for the energy transition, 40 per cent of the deposits are in Africa.”