Achieving an African economy four times bigger with only a 50% increase in energy demand

Africa has the potential to expand the continental economy fourfold, with energy demands expanding by only 50 percent, according to a new report. The International Energy Agency (IEA) unveiled its report on the first day of the second African Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Africa Energy Outlook 2019 found that the continent’s future energy prospects look bright, but only if Governments can make the shift to more renewable energy sources. The report says there are three factors that will determine the continent’s future energy consumption – its growing population, the rapid increase in urbanisation and industrialisation.
Kieran McNamara, an analyst at IEA, noted that these will have “profound effects on Africa’s energy mix and how the economy develops.”
The IEA has for the first time conducted detailed modelling of the energy mix for 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, namely Angola, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria and Senegal.
The projected energy mix needed for Africa will be very different from the current one, with countries moving away from biomass and fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.
About 600-million Africans have no access to electricity, although this has improved since 2013, according to IEA’s analysis. “In order to start to address the problem, we have to realize the scale of the emergency. And that data is extremely important. You have to be able to define the problem before you can actually address it,” said Wale Shonibare, Acting Vice President of Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.
Africa also needs to radically increase its investment in power generation from the current $30-billion to $120-billion by 2040, if it is to achieve universal access to electricity, according to Tae-Yoon Kim, another analyst at IEA.
If countries on the continent do not change current policies on energy use, Africa will not achieve the African Development Bank’s target of universal electricity by 2030.
But with improved policies, Africa can see the continental economy expand four times with matching energy demand that is only 50 percent greater than the current demand.
Kenya is one country where universal access to electricity could become a reality by 2022, if it continues with its current policy that has brought a large amount of renewables into the energy mix. Ethiopia could follow suit towards the end of the decade.
The African Development Bank and the IEA, an autonomous agency aiming to improve the world’s energy markets, participated in a high-level side event during the African Investment Forum 2019. Other participants included the European Commission, the African Union Commission and the African Energy Commission.
Discussions were based on the African Development Bank’s “Light Up and Power Africa” strategy, through which the bank hopes to build knowledge of the African energy sector, and assist in achieving universal access to electricity on the continent. Governments, utilities, regulators and investors will hopefully use this knowledge to help them grow energy sectors, while reducing costs. The availability of quality data will improve African countries’ abilities to make informed energy policy decisions and to provide private investors with valuable market analysis.
Through the New Deal on Energy for Africa (NDEA), the Bank has positioned itself to lead Africa’s energy transformation. The NDEA is a partnership-driven effort launched in 2016, which aims to achieve universal access to electricity in Africa by 2025.
The Africa Investment Forum (AIF) brings together project sponsors and investors, borrowers, lenders, policy makers and public and private sector investors, to promote Africa’s investment opportunities.
The Forum runs from 11-13 November in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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