The current policies and investment plans in African countries are not enough to meet the energy needs of the continent’s young and rapidly growing population, a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) called the Africa Energy Outlook 2019 has said.
Reports say in Africa today, about 600 million people do not have access to electricity and 900 million lack access to clean cooking facilities. Yet “the momentum behind today’s policy and investment plans is not yet enough to meet the energy needs of Africa’s population in full,” IEA report said.
The report noted that Africa’s energy future is not predetermined as current plans would leave 530 million people on the continent still without access to electricity in 2030, falling well short of universal access and major global development goal.
But with the right policies, it could reach that target while also becoming the first continent to develop its economy mainly through the use of modern energy sources.
“While more than 99 percent of the population in North Africa has access to electricity, the situation is very different in the rest of the continent,” IEA noted.
IEA acknowledged that Africa has a unique opportunity to pursue a much less carbon-intensive development path than many other parts of the world.
Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director said Africa has a unique opportunity to pursue a much less carbon-intensive development path than many other paths of the world.
“To achieve this, it has to take advantage of the huge potential that solar, wind, hydropower, natural gas and energy efficiency offer,” Birol said in the report.
Africa’s natural resources aren’t limited to sunshine and other energy sources. It also possesses major reserves of minerals such as cobalt and platinum that are needed in fast-growing clean energy industries.
“Africa holds the key for global energy transitions, as it is the continent with the most important ingredients for producing critical technologies,” Birol said. “For example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo accounts for two-thirds of global production of cobalt, a vital element in batteries, and South Africa produces 70percent of the world’s platinum, which is used in hydrogen fuel cells.”
The IEA report also noted that although Africa has the richest solar resources on the planet however it has so far installed only 5 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV), which is less than 1percent of global capacity.
“If policymakers 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,”IEA noted.