600 million people without electricity in Africa due to lack of infrastructure and investment

Except for the northern African countries, the continent lacks electricity. Huge load shedding is observed, especially in South Africa. Electricity infrastructure and investments are lacking to solve this problem. 600 million people without electricity in Africa due to lack of infrastructure and investment. The transition to sustainable energy is lagging behind. Analysis.

Africa Electricity Investment of $350 Billion Needed for Expansion

Nigeria: President Buhari had to apologize after a huge power outage

The nationwide fuel shortage coincided with a collapse of the national power grid that plunged parts of Nigeria’s major cities, including Lagos and Abuja, into darkness for several days.

“I deeply regret the inconvenience caused,” President Muhammadu Buhari said in his apology to the country in March 2022.

He blamed traders for fuel shortages and technical problems for power outages, promising that both of these woes would soon be resolved.

How can West Africa get rid of load shedding?

While Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal have largely reduced power outages, the issue remains a scourge elsewhere in the region. In addition, increasing production capacity is not enough to solve the problem.

Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and even Côte d’Ivoire. In recent months, load shedding has multiplied in French-speaking West Africa, causing criticism in the press and fatigue in the private sector. In Nigeria, “daily power cuts in Lagos and Abuja last an average of 6 to 8 hours”, recalled the Director General of the French Treasury in a note dated July 2021, stressing that “recurrent load shedding forces a large part of the population and almost all companies to acquire means of self-production, mainly expensive and polluting generators”.

The problem is both economic and political: not only do power cuts cost countries dearly, but they also fuel social discontent. Governments and electricity companies – the majority of which are public in the region – therefore want to avoid them at all costs. But is this possible in the short term and in a sustainable manner? Given the situation in the region, this is doubtful. “In West Africa, the rate of access to electricity is 52% on average, with power cuts of up to 80 hours per month,” noted the World Bank (WB) in 2018.

South Africa: Power cuts increase to ten hours a day

The power cuts in South Africa began on September 6. On Saturday 17 September a break in the power supply was extended to nine hours a day. “We urge the population to save electricity,” said Eskom in its statement. During June, July and August, South Africa experienced one of the longest periods of power outages in its history. It was out for up to 9 hours 30 minutes a day. These blackouts caused the GDP in the second quarter of the year to fall to 0.7% compared to the previous quarter.

Protests against power blackouts in South Africa

Since September 18, to avoid a blackout, the state-owned electricity company Eskom has been cutting power between six and 11 hours a day (in four-hour increments, according to a daily schedule). By the end of September, South Africans had already suffered more than 120 days of blackouts, double the number of days last year!

South Africa produced 84 tons of gold in 2022, compared to 105 tons in 2021, mainly because of power cuts. This is one of the pieces of information contained in the annual statistics published on Monday 6 February by the Minerals Council.

After one of the darkest years in 2022 for the country, marked by more than 200 days of load shedding, power cuts continue to cause damage in 2023.

South Africans are without power for more than 10 hours a day because of this scandal, which is undermining Cyril Ramaphosa’s ability to manage the country after years of mismanagement, corruption, sabotage and poor policy decisions.

Eskom denounced

Eskom, the state-owned electricity company, has come to terms with the fact that it has become unable to produce electricity continuously.

South Africans have mobilized and violent protests have broken out in several townships, and the opposition claims that the ruling ANC party is the source of the problem.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) had called on all South Africans to voice their anger at the ANC’s destruction of their energy infrastructure and economy.

Civil society organizations are also very angry with the head of state and have held a number of demonstrations, including one on January 20 in Pretoria and one on February 2 in Midrand in front of the Eskom offices.

Faced with the crisis, Cyril Ramaphosa had called on Eskom not to apply the tariff increase, in order to put the blame on the company and play the card of the people’s president, while anger is directed against him and his mismanagement.

Number of Africans without access to electricity increased in 2020 and 2021

600 million people without electricity in Africa due to lack of infrastructure and investment.

Energy access in Africa, where 600 million people live without electricity, has fallen further due to the combined effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis.

Since 2021, Africa has had 25 million more people without power: the fault of the Covid-19 pandemic and then the crisis, which put an end to ten years of progress, notes the Africa Energy Outlook 2022 of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which publishes a new report this Monday, June 20.

“We had seen many positive developments, in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda … but the trend is reversing. About 4% more Africans are living without electricity today compared to 2019,” Fatih Birol, the Agency’s director, told FLA. “And when I look at 2022, with the high energy prices and the economic burden this means for African countries, I see little reason for optimism.”

Increasing energy efficiency and expanding power grids and renewable capacity are the foundations of the continent’s energy future, the IEA says. The continent has 60 percent of the world’s solar resources, but hosts only 1 percent of the world’s photovoltaic installations, less than the Netherlands. Renewables, along with wind, dams and geothermal, will have to account for 80% of installed electricity capacity by 2030, for both energy and climate goals, says the IEA’s Sustainable Africa Scenario.

But for this, it will be necessary to “double the investments”, explains Fatih Birol. “International financial institutions, especially the multilateral development banks, must be given a strong mandate by countries to make Africa a top priority […] that can drive private capital.”

Renewable energy: why is Africa lagging behind?

According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the renewable energy sector in Africa is not attracting international investment, despite the enormous potential of the continent.

Renewable energy in Morocco

At a time when the budgets allocated to clean technologies continue to increase in the world, Africa is struggling to take off. Investments have even fallen to their lowest level in 11 years. To understand this gap, the continent’s share of global financing, estimated at $382 billion in 2022, is only 3% or $13 billion.

These investments are concentrated in a few markets (South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya…), representing three quarters of the total since 2010, or $46 billion. The other countries have obtained only $16 billion over the same period. In 2021, South Africa led the way with a budget of $753 million, followed by Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria with $282 million and $280 million respectively. Morocco and Egypt are fourth and fifth respectively, with $260 million and $238 million, according to the Energy Research Unit.

The alarm was sounded at COP 27, held last November in Sharm el-Sheikh: only 2.6 billion dollars were invested in Africa in wind, solar and geothermal energy in 2021, or 35% less. While at the same time, in the rest of the world, there was an increase of 9%.

600 million people without electricity in Africa due to lack of infrastructure and investment

Africa Infrastructure Summit: Meeting the Challenges with Massive Investment

The issue of infrastructure on the continent is always topical when we know that Africa is by far the part of the world with the least infrastructure (highways, ports, airports, power plants, hydroelectric dams, water and sanitation networks …). The Summit, which has just been held in Dakar, Senegal, has clearly demonstrated this.

These infrastructure deficits have a significant negative impact on Africa’s development. The result: according to data from the African Development Bank (ADB), only 56% of Africans have access to electricity and 42% to drinking water. And as far as electricity is concerned, knowing that North African countries have electrification rates of almost 100%, it goes without saying that in Sub-Saharan Africa, the electrification rate should be around 40%.

The inadequacy of road networks hinders the supply of many regions of the continent in efficient conditions. In short, the infrastructure deficit in Africa is a reality that has become disabling, prompting the AfDB to make infrastructure financing one of its priorities.

It is therefore not surprising that the appeal was made at the Summit to investors and partners to support AU member states in raising the necessary resources, henceforth referred to as the Dakar Declaration. It is about bankable projects. To this end, participants asked the Union Development Agency “AUDA-NEPAD” to report on the progress made through the AU governance mechanisms at the next summit.

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