Lovemore Ranga Mataire
Five SADC countries have been ranked highly among the top African 20 countries capable of providing electricity on a permanent basis to a large section of their citizens.
In southern Africa, Swaziland takes first position, followed by South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, while Namibia is the fifth best country able to provide electricity to the majority of its citizens.
The list by Afrobarometer is dominated North African countries who have the capacity to provide reliable electricity to most or all of their citizenry.
Egypt is rated second with a 100 percent reach of electricity, while Tunisia (99%), Algeria (99%), Cape Verde (98), Swaziland (97%), South Africa (95%), Morocco (94%), Cameroon (93%), Sao Tome and Principe (90%), Nigeria (90), Botswana (90%), Botswana (89%), Ghana (85%), Gabon (83%), Cote d’lvoire (83%), Kenya (83%), Senegal (72%), Sudan (65%), Zimbabwe (62%) and Namibia (62%) make the list.
In its recent survey conducted among 36 African countries over a period of two years, the Ghana based think-tank concluded that while more Africans live within reach of an electric grid than a decade ago, only four in 10 enjoy a reliable power supply.
The survey is based on 54 000 interviews conducted between 2014 and 2015 of 36 countries representative of all of Africa’s regions.
“Based on 54 000 interviews in 36 countries in 2014/2015, Afrobarometer report concludes that more than a century after the invention of the light bulb, a majority of Africans are still in the dark, either intermittently or constantly,” read part of a statement released by Afrobarometer on its website.
Afrobarometer communications co-ordinator for Southern Africa, Sibusiso Nkomo, said the survey was limited to 36 countries that were easily accessible and had up-to-date census data.
“We covered 36 countries because these countries were the most accessible in terms of reaching remote rural areas. In Angola, for example, we could not conduct the interviews because we need approval from the Propaganda Ministry while in Chad we faced problems of accessibility and lack of census data taken 10 years or less,” said Nkomo.
He said Afrobarometer officials in Zimbabwe were able to traverse freely to every part of the country and that the interviews were conducted in random manner in each province and the team made efforts to reach the remotest areas.
Titled, “Off-grid- or Of-on: Lack of access, unreliable electricity supply still plague majority of Africans”, the report states that on average across 36 countries, two-thirds (66%) of Africans live in zones served by an electric grid translating to a 14 percent point increase from 2005. But this proportion varies widely across the continent with access being very scanty in most rural areas.
Six out of 10 Africans (60%) are actually connected to an electric grid, ranging from less than one in seven citizens in Burundi (11%), Malawi (12%), and Burkina Faso (14%) to universal coverage in Mauritius and Tunisia.
Of those connected, 69 percent enjoy reliable power supply, while about one-third of connections work “about half the time” (9%), occasionally (14%) and never (8%).
Interestingly, of the 96 percent connections in Nigeria only 18 percent of the connections work most of the time.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues across more than 30 countries in Africa.
The think-tank conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples that yield country-level results with margins of error of plus or minus 2 percent for samples of 2.400 or plus 3 percent while samples of 1,200 samples yield 95 percent confidence level.