Southern African Urbanisation Requires Elevated Energy Policies

Harare – Global energy trends for the continent are likely to be influenced by Africa’s upcoming urbanisation process. In this regard the continent needs strong energy policies to sustain the forecasted urbanisation progression.

According to a report released recently by the International Energy Agency titled Africa Energy Outlook 2019, the number of people living in Africa’s cities is expected to expand by 600 million over the next two decades, much higher than the increase experienced by China’s cities during the country’s 20-year economic and energy boom.

“Africa’s overall population is set to exceed 2 billion before 2040, accounting for half of the global increase over that period. These profound changes will drive the continent’s economic growth, infrastructure development and, in turn, energy demand, which is projected to rise 60 percent to around 1,320 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2040, based on current policies and plans,” stated the report.

The report highlights that Africa’s energy future is not fixed. If there are no changes in the present energy plans, over 530 million people on the continent could lack access to electricity in 2030. However, correct policies could reach favourable targets of access to electricity and becoming the first continent to develop its economy mainly by modern energy sources. Focusing on rich natural resources and advances in technology, the continent could by 2040 meet the energy demands of an economy four times larger than today’s with only 50 percent more energy.

According to IEA, Africa must take advantage of the huge potential that solar, wind, hydropower, natural gas and energy efficiency offer. For example, Africa has the richest solar resources on the earth but has so far installed only 5 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV), which is less than one percent of global capacity.

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“If policy makers put a strong emphasis on clean energy technologies, solar PV could become the continent’s largest electricity source in terms of installed capacity by 2040. Natural gas, meanwhile, is likely to correspond well with Africa’s industrial growth drive and need for flexible electricity supply.

“Today, the share of gas in sub-Saharan Africa’s energy mix is the lowest of any region in the world. But that could be about to change, especially considering the supplies Africa has at its disposal: it is home to more than 40 percent of global gas discoveries so far this decade, notably in Egypt, Mozambique and Tanzania,” said the report.

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