In Africa 20 facts on electricity that will surprise, make you cry, and even uplift you

When American households watch the Super Bowl, they consume 10 times the electricity used in a year by the more than 1 million people living in Juba.

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African Development Bank president Adesina: It’s energy, energy, and energy. play

African Development Bank president Adesina: It’s energy, energy, and energy.

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AFRICAN Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, who took over this month, recently said he’s aiming to eliminate Africa’s energy deficit by 2025 by mobilising $55 billion of investment.

Termed the “New Deal for Energy in Africa,” the continent’s largest development bank said the plan will significantly raise its support for energy projects and that its partners should also scale up efforts. The proposal also called for African countries to increase financing for the development of the energy industry. He has good reason to beat the drums on energy.

Lightning strike over Johannesburg. In some African countries, this is the only form of electricity people encounter on a regular basis. play

Lightning strike over Johannesburg. In some African countries, this is the only form of electricity people encounter on a regular basis.

(Flickr/ Derek Keats)

Africa’s energy troubles are well documented, but sometimes seeing the cold, hard numbers can bring a whole new perspective. We highlight some of them, drawing from the latest Africa Progress Panel report titled People, Power, Planet:

1.   TWO in every three people in Africa, around 621 million in total, have no access to electricity. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Malawi and Sierra Leone, fewer than one in 10 people have access to electricity.

2.    Ethiopia, with a population of 94 million, consumes one-third of the electricity supplied to the 600,000 residents of Washington D.C. Greater London consumes more electricity than any country in Africa other than South Africa.

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3.    It takes the average Tanzanian around eight years to consume as much electricity as an American uses in one month. When American households switch on their TVs to watch the Super Bowl, the annual finale of their football season, they consume 10 times the electricity used over the course of a year by the more than 1 million people living in Juba, South Sudan.

4.    Installed grid-based capacity in sub-Sahara Africa is around 90 gigawatts (GW), which is less than the capacity in South Korea where the population is only 5% that of sub-Sahara Africa.

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5.    The poor spend the most on energy. Africa’s poorest households spend $10/kWh on lighting, or around 20 times the amount spent by high-income households with a connection to the grid.

6.    A rural woman in northern Nigeria spends around 60 to 80 times more per unit of energy consumed than a resident of Manhattan or London. The same woman also spends some 30 times more than the residents of high-income households with grid connections in gated communities in Lagos.

7.    On current trends, it will take Africa until 2080 to achieve universal access to electricity. Universal access to clean cooking facilities would occur in around 150 years, sometime after the middle of the 22nd century.

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8.    But there will be demand for more power in Africa in the next few decades, driven by economic growth, population growth and urbanisation. Each percentage point in GDP growth in developing countries tends to be accompanied by growth in energy demand of 1.2 to 2.3%.

9.    Between 2015 and 2040, the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase by 755 million, or 81%. Electricity generation will have to almost double by 2040  to maintain per capita provision.

10.   By 2050 around one half of Africans will live in cities, compared with just over one-third today – an increase in the urban population of 800 million people. Today, urban consumers in Africa use on average three times more electricity than their rural counterparts.

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11.   But in a few African countries, the gap in electrification is quite small. One such country is South Africa, where more than 80% of rural homes have power. But in another group of countries - South Sudan, Liberia and Central African Republic - the gap is small for an entirely different reason, it’s because even towns have no electricity. Both urban and rural electrification rates are under 10%.

12.   To raise the entire region of Sub-Saharan Africa to the average current per capita electricity access of South Africa would require a 33-fold increase in installed capacity.

13.   It seems to be a tall order, but it is possible. Brazil, China and Indonesia have achieved rapid electrification over short time periods. Vietnam went from levels of access below those now prevailing in Africa to universal provision in around 15 years. The country expanded electricity consumption fivefold between 2000 and 2013.

14.   Liberalisation in the power sector has been a magnet for equity investors in Africa. Between ?2010 and 2013, there were around 27 private equity investments in energy and natural resources, with an aggregate value of US$1.2 billion.

play Federal Ministry of Power, Ambassador (Doctor) Godknows Boladei Igali (centre), and SkyPower Global's Vice President of Development for Africa,

15.   Nigeria is rapidly scaling up solar capacity. Agreements signed in 2014 and the first half of 2015 will take the country across the 5GW threshold.

SkyPower FAS Energy has signed agreements with the federal government and the Delta State government to develop 3GW of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects over the next five years at an estimated cost of $5 billion.

16.   Kenya is now the world’s ninth largest producer of geothermal energy. Current plans envisage the doubling of capacity by the end of 2016 through expansion of the existing Olkaria plant. The Turkana Wind Power Project will also add 20% to currently installed capacity.

17.   Ethiopia is taking a big lead in green energy, setting ambitious targets for zero carbon emissins. One of the region’s largest wind-farm projects, the 120MW, 84-turbine Adama project, was recently completed through a $290 million French investment. The government also signed a $4 billion deal with US-Icelandic company Reykjavik Geothermal to build a 1GW geothermal plant by the beginning of the next decade.

18.   Since 2010, South Africa has registered one of the fastest rates of growth in ?the world for renewable energy investment. The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme contracted for $14 billion of private-sector investment across 64 projects, ranging from wind farms and solar PV to biogas.

19.   The world’s fourth largest solar facility is under construction in western Ghana.

play The 155 MW Nzema installation will be completed in 10 MW zones and is set to be completed by the end of 2015.

The $400 million Nzema solar project will include 630,000 solar PV modules generating 155MW and adding 6% to Ghana’s overall power generation.

20.  In Mauritania, solar energy now powers around one-third of energy use in the capital city, Nouakchott, and 10% of the national grid. Plans are under way to commission a 30MW wind farm, increasing the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix to 45%.

This article was originally published by Mail & Guardian Africa.

Learn more about how General Electric is helping solve Africa's energy problem here > GEReportsAfrica.com

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