US$14 billion Needed Annually for Sub-Saharan Africa Power Sector

US$14 billion a year needed for Sub-Saharan Africa's energy sector
South Africa Energy Minister Jeff Radebe (GBNA)

South Africa – The cost of addressing the needs of Sub-Saharan Africa’s power sector has been estimated at US$14 billion a year, which is equivalent to 6% of Africa’s gross domestic product. This was said by South Africa’s Energy Department Minister Jeff Radebe while delivering his welcome speech on the opening day of the two day Power & Electricity World Africa 2018 expo at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

The expo is Africa’s largest and longest running power and electricity event, is organised by Terrapin and is in its 21st year running. It was held in conjunction with The Water Show and Energy Efficiency World Africa, and The Solar Show Africa from 27 to 28 March.

In his address the Minister cited the large power demand across Africa, the huge funding requirement to increase power generation, the importance of regional integration to meet electricity demand and other issues of note.

He pointed out that about 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa have no access to modern forms of electricity.

“In some African countries, less than 5% of the rural population has access to electricity owing to most African governments being unable to fund their own power needs. Public utilities do not have enough capacity to sufficiently meet demand at affordable rates,” the Minister said.

Radebe then added that the large funding gap cannot be bridged by the public sector alone. He also went on to emphasise the need to encourage, facilitate and leverage private sector investment and partnerships in funding requirements for increasing access to energy in Africa.

Referring to the 40 000 MW Grand Inga Hydroelectric project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Minister Radebe said, “We believe that the project in the DRC can unleash clean and affordable hydro-power to meet the energy needs of all in the sub-region.”

The Minister also pointed out the importance of regional integration to meet the electricity demand of sub-Saharan Africa. He gave examples of some strategic programmes, including energy transmission initiatives into Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the DRC.

“We need to also plan for decentralised energy access, to immediately address the energy poverty at household level. Empirical studies indicate that with energy access, the African child has more time for education, including during the night. Access to energy is the most critical driver for development on the continent,” Radebe also said.

Like in previous events the expo once again attracted thousands of visitors including government officials, business leaders, entrepreneurs, academics, decision makers and buyers, and other players in the power and electricity space.

Noteworthy speakers at the expo’s plenary sessions delivered valuable insights on clean technology and energy storage, power generation, transmission and distribution, and solar energy to the delegates.

The expo also allowed exhibitors and visitors an opportunity to meet hundreds of energy professionals and increase their networking potential and sales leads.