Sustainable Energy and Electrifying Africa: Part Two

by Developed Africa 24. September 2013 09:00

Energy in Africa is a very prevalent and important matter that needs to be addressed.

Following on from our previous post, we will analyse the approach of the Obama administration in its "Power for Africa" innovation. 

The project aims to bring electricity to more than 20 million more homes, to introduce 10,000 MWs of cleaner energy, as well as to increase the reliability of the energy being used "through combined grid, off-grid, and mini-grid solutions"

Ozwald Boateng in an article for the Telegraph argued that:

The need for this initiative is obvious: Africa, a sixth of the world's population, produces only 4pc of the world's generated power. The 800m people of Sub-Sahara generate the same amount of power as Spain"

But it is clear that there is significant amounts of debate over the ways in which the US administration are approaching the issue, it is argued by some that the methods used are going to be more helpful to the US and big business rather than Africa. And that maybe the:

approached being outlined seem likely to lead to large, climate-polluting, centralised power projects- not the decentralised, renewable energy systems that are the most efficient and cleanest means of reaching Africa's poorest families"

This is perhaps the biggest concern that is used by many of "Power Africa"'s critics, as they feel that:

Once Africans are locked into natural gas infrastructure, they're locked into 40 years of increasing emissions- and four more decades of global warming's impacts"

And whilst it should not be up to developed countries to dictate to Africa that it should focus on renewable rather than fossil fuels which will inevitably help it develop faster, at the same time, there is the argument that it could in fact be best for Africa to have a large focus on renewable energy. Renewables are the safest and easiest way to ensure energy can be distributed to the more rural areas across the continent. 

Of course, one could argue that the best thing for African countries is to see economic growth, and to see that the best way would be to create fossil fuel power plants of there own to allow them to prosper and benefit from their natural resources. But the argument against this method is that it is not reaching African countries' poorest, it will merely result in a temporary increase in economic growth, whilst not only would renewable energy be a more secure method, but it is also easier to reach the poor with. 

It is clear for the article from South African Civil Society Information Service (SACSIS), that the US policy is perhaps not for the African people, but for the US big oil businesses wanting to get in on the new oil and gas fields found off Africa's coast. 

by doing away with lending restricitions on climate polluting projects, OPIC is free to grease the wheels for mega-deals between U.S. fossil fuel companies and African interests" 

This is in relation to the fact that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)'s cap on greenhouse gas emissions may be weakened in order to American businesses to benefit from energy actions in Africa. Which is perhaps quite a lot of evidence to prove that this project is not necessarily what is best for African people, or African business in the long run, but US business.


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