by Developed Africa 25. March 2014 09:00

The issue of energy production across Africa is a vital and continuing one, but some countries are making marked progress.

There is a great degree of contrast between African nations when it comes to power and energy production. Looking at recent news and announcements, this contrast can be evidenced in the examples of Ethiopia and South Africa.

Ethiopia, it has recently been announced, looks as though it will begin producing energy at Africa's largest power plant in 2015. The hydropower plant has the capacity to produce 6,000-megawatts, and not only is this production environmentally friendly it looks set to reduce Ethiopia's debts, as it will export some of its excess energy to neighbouring countries, bringing in an estimated $2 billion per year. 

the government already exports power to Sudan and Djibouti. It's also building a transmission line to Kenya and is in discussions with Yemen and war-torn South Sudan."

Compared to Ethiopia's coming triumph, South Africa can be seen to be trailing behind on the energy front. Eskom, the state-owned power company declared:

four power "emergencies" since November and earlier this month imposed rolling blackouts, known locally as "load shedding", for the first time in six years."

All this is evidence that investment into strong energy infrastructure is vital. Due to lack of strong power plants, and failure to invest in them 20 years ago, has led to South Africa having to frantically cobble together energy plans. 

Eskom is scrambling to finish new power plants, including Medupi and Kusile, massive coal-fired outfits with a combined capacity of about 9,5000 megawatts.

But it could be years before they reach completion. So despite South Africa having the largest energy production capacity on the continent, its failure to ensure proper maintenance of its power plants has led to this scramble for power.


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