Three-step action plan to boost sub-Saharan Africa’s energy sector

Natural gas production will reach 230bn cu/m in 2040. (Image source: IEA)The International Energy Agency (IEA) has suggested a three-step action plan to boost sub-Saharan Africa’s economy by 30 per cent in 2040

The IEA’s comprehensive analysis of sub-Saharan Africa finds that the region’s energy resources are more than sufficient to meet the needs of the population, but the resources are largely under-developed. The report shows that three major actions could boost the sub-Saharan Africa economy and deliver an extra decade of growth in per-capita income by 2040.

Firstly, an investment worth US$450bn in power sector can help reduce power shortages by half and provide electricity access in urban areas. More than 620mn people in sub-Saharan Africa i.e. two-thirds of the population live without electricity, and nearly 730mn people rely on dangerous and inefficient forms of cooking. Average electricity consumption per capita is not enough to power a single 50-watt light bulb continuously, added the report.

The IEA report also finds that investment in sub-Saharan energy supply has been growing, but two-thirds of the total investments since 2000 has been aimed at developing resources for export.

Secondly, there is a need for a deeper regional co-operation and integration. This will facilitate new large-scale power generation and transmission projects, which will enable further expansion in cross-border trade.

Grid-based power generation capacity continues to fall short of what is needed, and half of it is located in South Africa alone. Insufficient and unreliable supply has resulted in large-scale ownership of costly back up generators, added the report.

Thirdly, the region is endowed with renewable energy resources including solar, hydro, wind and geothermal. IEA advised a step towards better management and an effective use of these energy resources, which will in turn generate revenue.

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