Energy in sub saharan africa is one of the most well documented problems facing the continent as a lack of access by the population has led to economic stagnation.
Traditionally, energy sources are mainly from coal, oil, gas and hydroelectricity. While these sources have their own percentage usage , oil and coal ( which are not easily renewable) constitute a major part.
Sub saharan Africa requires large consumption of varying levels of energy to sustain its industrialization drive. Countries like Nigeria and SouthAfrica are among the big weights in energy consumption across the continent, owing to their large infrastructure base and strong physical industry.,
Population statistics from the UNDP show a possible population explosion within the next five years, leading to increased demand for energy.
Currently, power generation in Africa is very low , with energy improvements at just 1.2% annually. Following trends, it is likely that 60% of the continent would not have access to energy by 2020.
One major reason for the lack of effective development can be directly linked to the high cost of non renewable energy among countries on the continent . Generation sources are mostly coal, fuel and gas turbine stations that require huge mechanisms and an equally large volume of gas to produce and generate electricity to power homes and industries.
Could demand for energy likely increase on the continent?
Yes. Most likely. The demand for energy use and consumption would likely triple over the coming years as rapid population growth , urbanization and economic development rises .African governments are increasingly burdened with finding cheaper alternative sources of energy to reduce the equally high demand.
RENEWABLE ENERGY : the missing jigsaw.
Renewable energy are energy generated from sources that can be easily replenished. Energy generated by heat or water or waste material fall over this category.
Currently, renewable energy constitute 20 percent of global energy consumption (African consumption falls even lower). There have been varied calls for countries to seek out innovative renewable resources to generate electricity.
Climate changes and other dangerous environmental issues can be directly linked to the emisssions from the use of non renewable energy.
In the last three years, there have been improved research on the use of biomass ( energy from waste materials) to provide energy. Electric and biomass cars have also been produced to reduce crude oil consumptions.
While Africa might not be a leading emission base for fossil fuels ( china and USA are the major culprits), the decision to move towards cheaper sustainable energy sources would likely bear more fruit.
Improved industrialization, electrification and infrastructural development would likely increase. There is also a tendency for improved productivity as energy levels would aid less idle time at work. The business owner would see less energy costs and this would boost profits.
Bright Remy, CEO of Remok Consults opines that ,
Renewable energy would reduce the cost of government in providing electricity. Industries would be run more efficiently and development accelerated at a fast pace.
While it is now imperative that African countries harness its energy resources through various sources, there should be an equitable mix to ensure that countries can slowly transition from non- renewable to renewable sources.
Until then, however, we must innovate, develop, plan and build!