Our world economy faces unprecedented challenges, whether from soaring population growth, resource constraints, a warming climate and myopic financial markets. Energy demand is expected to be 35 percent higher in 2030 than in 2005. Energy efficiency is, more than ever, a critically important 'energy source'. It is anticipated that the increasing costs of energy would more than encourage serious action on efficiency across the globe. For instance, the European Council approved a 20% cut in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency by 2020 in the European Union’s Strategy for energy and climate change, EU 202020.
It is expected that other Political and Economic blocs across the globe would consider similar or better energy saving and efficiency policies with the necessary political backing to ensure proper implementation. Although there are no Policy pronouncements from the African Blocs yet, the Bloc is not waiting, but is working on actions and initiatives in energy efficiency and climate change adaptation at large.
Considering the fact that over 560 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to modern energy, the need for clean and efficient energy access can no longer be ignored. Hence, African bloc must expand its efficient power generation and effective access for economic development and also if, indeed we must succeed in reducing or eradicating poverty, which ever one you prefer.
A World Bank study, Africa's Infrastructure Country Diagnosis revealed that addressing Africa's power challenges and implementing regional trade will require spending US$41 billion per year; also that reforming power utilities to reduce inefficiencies would save US$3.3 billion a year. This thus, suggests that simply implementing energy efficiency projects or initiatives will save a lot of money as well as free up some energy access capacity.Some remarkable examples of the energy efficiency initiatives by African Governments include:
- World Bank’s new compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs distribution project in Ethiopia, in which the Ethiopian Government distributed 5 million CFL bulbs. This scheme saved 80 megawatts of electricity with only half of the bulbs in distribution. To put this savings in perspective, a power plant with 80 megawatts of electricity capacity will cost about US$100 million. This implies that just investing US$4 million in new light bulbs yielded a US$100 million worth of savings in energy costs. This scheme ensured that low-income households reduce their electricity consumption by 55% which means lower electricity bills. the Country report stated that the Ethiopian Government besides designed a conservation campaign, upgraded street lighting, negotiated with large power users, and distributed 2.5 million efficient household cook stoves that use 40-60% less wood fuel. The catch also is that this saves women and children precious time fetching wood as well as saves trees; and
- In Uganda and Rwanda 800,000 and 200,000 CFLs were distributed respectively in similar world-bank's projects with similar outcomes.
In my opinion, African Governments should reflect more on how to reduce energy consumption, conserve energy, and make access to energy to more people for more sustainable economic development and not scheme on how to stay in Power forever with nothing to show for it, at worst throw the country into civil unrest like recent events in Ivory Coast.
What do you think?
Credits: Jamal Saghir, Worldbank Group