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01 May 2018

An African Energy Industry Report 2018

Fossil Fuels
An African Energy Industry Report 2018

Africa is an energy poor continent and stands at a crossroads.

Energy is at the core of two very important issues in Africa: ensuring a steady, reliable and sustainable supply for all people in all settings and facilitating and extending the economic growth that has created opportunities and raised hopes across the continent in the past decade.

To address these issues, African countries will have to harness their own vast energy resources. For this, in addition to legacy energy sources modern renewable technologies have an important role to play. Renewable technologies promote more inclusive economic and social development than fossil fuel-based options, because they are suitable small-scale solutions that can run independently from central control.

Global renewable energy solutions are available and economical. Solutions which are specific to Africa’s energy challenges are also emerging. These solutions will allow Africa to leapfrog to achieve minimum cost, environmentally friendly energy sector development, which ultimately contributes to sustainable development goals.

Since 2000, Africa has been experiencing economic growth and energy consumption that has risen by 45%. However, the regional energy systems are under-developed and unable to meet the populations’ demand. Although resources are more than sufficient to meet domestic needs, access to modern
energy services remains limited.

Africa is a continent rich in energy resources, but poor in energy supply. With over 130 million households still dependent on other forms of energy such as: charcoal, kerosene, lantern, candles, fossil fuels, and another 620 million who do not have access to electricity at all, it is a truism that energy development is moving, but not quickly enough.

Most people in Sub-Saharan Africa face severe energy poverty, and low availability of energy services hampers economic development.
Meeting the growing energy demand of their population and ensuring universal access to modern energy services with respect to the environment are the principal goals of African countries.

Its growing population and economic progress has sent energy demand soaring. This calls for a rapid increase in supply on the continent, to which all forms of energy must contribute in the future and the pursuit of sustainable energy development as a basis for long-term prosperity. 

Although Africa is richly endowed with fossil-based and renewable energy sources, a continued reliance on oil and gas along with traditional biomass combustion for energy brings with it considerable social, economic and environmental constraints.

Countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa are leading this effort, while some of Africa’s smaller countries including Cabo Verde, Djibouti, Rwanda and Swaziland have also set ambitious renewable energy targets.

Undoubtedly, renewable energy is on the rise across the continent. Africa 2030, IRENA’s comprehensive roadmap for the continent’s energy transition, illuminates a viable path to prosperity through renewable energy development.

Africa can deploy modern renewables to eliminate power shortages, bring electricity and development opportunities to rural villages that have never enjoyed those benefits, spur on industrial growth, create entrepreneurs, and support increased prosperity across the continent. Modern renewables can also facilitate a cost-effective transformation to a cleaner and more secure energy sector.

Some technology solutions are relatively easy to implement but require an enabling environment, with appropriate policies, regulation, governance and access to financial markets.

As a promising sign of things to come, several African countries have already succeeded in making steps necessary to scale up renewables, such as adoption of support policies, investment promotion and regional collaboration.