Strategies for Sustainable Energy Development in Africa

Energy resources and projects in continental Africa. Graphic by Matt.9.johnson (Adobe Illustrator, Morning Project)

The Path to Eradication of Energy Poverty South of the Sahara

Africa is endowed with energy resources: oil, natural gas, coal, hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, tidal and wave energy abound across its land and ocean territorial area.

But they are not evenly distributed.

Energy resources and projects in continental Africa (2012). Graphic by Matt.9.johnson (Adobe Illustrator, Morning Project), via Wikimedia Commons.

Oil and gas, previously extracted mainly in North Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, have now been discovered in economic quantities in East and West Africa as well as parts of southern Africa. Hydropower is available in central and eastern Africa. Substantial coal deposits are exploited in southern Africa. Uranium is available in West Africa and southern parts of the continent. Geothermal energy is accessible primarily in East Africa. The strongest winds are found in the higher northern and southern latitudes of the continent. Solar energy is arguably available everywhere.

Africa’s 55 countries [including Western Sahara] cover a land area of some 30 million square kilometers [at 11.7 million square miles, slightly larger than the U.S., Europe and China combined]. That’s about 20 percent of the planet’s total land. The 1.2 billion people on the continent comprise 16 percent of the world’s population.

Africa has a lot going for it. Yet despite well-intentioned efforts by many of its nations there is a persistent and pervasive poverty in modern energy services bedeviling the continent. The problem seems to defy solution, as can be witnessed by “load-shedding,” the intermittent almost daily power cuts that most sub-Saharan (SSA) nations are forced to endure as an adequate and consistently reliable supply of electricity fails to keep pace with demand. Long lines are also frequently seen at fuel stations throughout the SSA region, further evidence of economic development being thwarted by inefficient systems of energy supply and —> Read More