Africa urged to reap its alternative energy
AFRICAN countries should take full advantage of “abundant” resources including solar radiation and wind power to generate electricity, the eighth Pan African Power Congress heard yesterday.
The CEO of Ghana’s Volta River Authority, Joshua Ofedie, said Africa was “relatively well endowed” with energy resources that could provide a crucial boost to the continent’s dwindling electricity reserves.
“Despite its important energy resources, Africa generates only 3,1% of the world electricity, less than any other region of the world,” said Ofedie.
He said the continent had an estimated geothermal energy potential of 9000MW in the Rift River Valley in east Africa.
Electricity in Africa is generated mainly from coal (46%), gas (23%), water (18%), oil (11%) and nuclear (2%).
“Other renewable sources such as solar, geothermal and wind play an insignificant role so far,” Ofedie said.
However, Africa’s energy resources were unevenly located in different regions, he said.
Most hydropower potential lies in central and western Africa, oil and gas resources are located in the western and northern parts of the continent, while coal reserves are concentrated almost exclusively in southern Africa. Geothermal generation is being developed only in eastern Africa.
Africa’s largest power utility, Eskom, said during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 that by 2012 about 5% of its energy would be generated from renewable sources.
The power utility said it had invested about R60m in researching wind farming, R1m in biopower and R500000 in wave power.
The minerals and energy department has set a target of an additional 10000GW/h of renewable energy by 2013.
According to a study by the United Nations, about 1,6-billion people in the world have no access to electricity.
The study projects that an accumulated investment of about $10-trillion will be spent by governments and the private sector to roll out electricity infrastructure by 2030.
The biggest challenges are in Asia and Africa, where 50% of the households in south Asia do not have access to electricity.
In sub-Saharan Africa about 32% of households are not electrified.