Nigeria and South Africa have been identified as Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest energy demand centres.

The two countries were so identified by a new study titled, “Energy in sub-Saharan Africa Today,” as part of the World Energy Outlook 2014 study conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Nigeria and South Africa together account for more than 40 per cent of total energy demand in Sub Saharan Africa.

The report noted that access to modern energy services, though increasing, remains very limited. Despite many positive efforts, more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are without access to electricity. Nearly 730 million people rely on the traditional use of solid biomass for cooking.

The report added that each year, nearly 600,000 premature deaths in Africa can be attributed to household air pollution resulting from the traditional use of solid fuels, such as fuel, wood and charcoal.

The study further said bio-energy, mostly fuel, wood and charcoal, accounted for more than 60 per cent of energy demand. Despite rising incomes, bio-energy consumption continues to rise: its growth since 2000 has been greater than that of all other fuels combined.

Coal makes up 18 per cent of total energy demand in 2012, followed by oil, 15 per cent, and natural gas, four per cent.

According to the study, a host of smaller producers such as South Sudan, Niger, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya see rising output; but by the late 2020s, production in most countries with the exception of Nigeria will be in decline.

Consequently, Angola is set to overtake Nigeria as the region’s largest producer of crude oil until the early 2020s.

Specifically, Nigeria remains the region’s largest gas consumer and producer, but the focus for new gas projects also shifts to the east coast and to the huge offshore discoveries in Mozambique and Tanzania.

The report also identified the fact that a severe shortage of essential electricity infrastructure is said to be undermining efforts to achieve more rapid social and economic development.

For the minority that has a grid connection today, the report said, supply is often unreliable, necessitating widespread and costly private use of back-up generators running on diesel or gasoline.

Electricity tariffs are, in many cases, among the highest in the world and, outside South Africa, losses in poorly maintained transmission and distribution networks are double the world average.

The study further showed that reform programmes are starting to improve efficiency and to bring in new capital. This includes those from private investors, and grid-based generation capacity quadruples in our main scenario to 2040, albeit from a very low base of 90GW today (half of which is in South Africa).

Urban areas experience the largest improvement in the coverage and reliability of centralized electricity supply, the report added.

The report also revealed that the sub-Saharan Africa economy is being threatened by weak energy system which appears to have defied approach by regional authorities put in place in many countries aimed at expanding domestic energy provision.

The study states that the current state of the region’s energy system is a major threat to the region’s economic hopes.

The agency observed that the energy demand in sub-Saharan Africa grew by around 45 per cent from 2000 to 2012, but accounts for only four per cent of global demand despite being home to 13 per cent of the global population.

Folashade Olubayo
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