Energy in Africa: More than anywhere else an absolute necessity
In Africa, like the rest of the world, economic development, basic living standards and even survival greatly depend on access to energy. Most Africans, however, have insufficient access to energy, if they have any at all. Mbendi Website informs that energy consumption in Africa (excluding wood and charcoal) is the lowest in the world with an average TOE (ton of oil equivalent) of 0.6 ton per capita. This is three times less than the world average, seven times less than in Europe and fifteen times less than America.
If one considers that the Republic of South Africa accounts for 40% of Africa’s energy consumption on its own and that North African countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt) also have a relatively high level of demand, this means that the average consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa is so low that it does not make possible the economic development required to reduce poverty.
Lack of access to commercial energy means the widespread use of traditional energy sources -human and animal traction- and especially biomass which represents 75% of the continent’s total energy consumption. As currently used, essentially for domestic purposes, this gives rise to serious problems: wood collection puts a strain on society (it takes time and is mostly done by women), it contributes to deforestation and causes health problems due to smoke inhalation within the homes.
Why the need for an Association for the Development of Energy in Africa?
It is first necessary to break the vicious cycle which currently dominates the sector and to search for ways and means which would enable the integration of excluded populations into the commercial system, which is necessary to make development possible.
Priority must be given to the following actions:
- Improvement of the traditional usage of biomass which would enable the use of modern recycling procedures;
- Promotion of natural gas consumption, an abundant resource in North Africa and the Guinea Gulf countries;
- Facilitate access to electricity in peri-urban and rural environments;
- Establishment of the technical, legal and fiscal conditions which would facilitate oil and gas production;
- Provision of the means to enable the maintenance of refinery facilities which could provide for the production of oil-based products at the lowest possible cost;
- The search for solutions which would enable producers and distributors to effectively deal (or partly deal) with the uncontrollable fluctuations in fuel prices (diesel, fuel oil) – a factor which is difficult to integrate into tariffs.
However, the efforts of these actions are not likely to bear fruit immediately and the extreme independence of sector participants does not facilitate the initiatives.
Conscious of the fact that a coordinated approach is possible by setting up a think tank which would focus on efficiency, solidarity and partnership, the “Association for the Development of Energy in Africa” has set the following objectives:
- To study the issues and challenges affecting energy in Africa and ways of providing access to this energy under safe and reasonably affordable conditions, a factor which is essential to sustainable development;
- To determine the resources which will be needed for developing production and energy consumption, with prices in line with local living standards, especially in relation to electricity;
- To organise forums which would provide for depth of thought on salient issues and establish partnerships for products and their distribution;
- To publish articles, recommendations and works which would promote this approach.
Resources available to the Association
In order to achieve these objectives, the ADEA uses the following tools:
- The Energy and Sustainable Development Summit whose success over the past five years has shown that the major actors of the sector feel directly concerned by the challenge of achieving sustainable development;
- The Journal of the Association for the Development of Energy in Africa which conveys Summit and forum recommendations, providing the various actors -who have all been developing completely separately- with the opportunity to communicate and prepare for future Summits.
The Association intends to promote its efforts using the Energy Summit as its main springboard.
Senegal, one of the countries involved in the launch of the NEPAD initiative (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), is in charge of energy issues within this framework: this is why the Energy Summit was held in Dakar from 2002 to 2005 and has always received the unconditional support of Senegal’s highest ranking authorities. The 2006 Summit took place in South Africa and the 2007 one was again in Dakar.
The publication is used as a means to promote the ideas, initiatives, projects and encounters organised during and in relation to the Summit. Through this, the Association may take on the role of facilitator and intermediary between the associations which are very active in their relative fields -but often lack resources and whose efforts are too dispersed- and the industrial world including major oil groups and electrical companies.
It is published twice a year, once for the Summit and once half-way through the year. Editorial content includes:
- Lead articles, chosen from Summit contributions or other sources;
- A follow-up on flagship projects carried out by sector participants, in line with the principles which the Association intends to promote;
- A promotional space for the NGOs involved in the sector, in search of partners and the sharing of ideas and financing;
- The creation of a “forum” providing sector participants with the opportunity to communicate.
A website will complete the picture, giving all partners across-the-board access to information deemed to be useful (publication, schedules for meetings or gatherings organised by the various divisions, etc.).
Organisation of the Association
The Association :
- Develops within a network of businessmen, academics and specialists concerned with the energy problems in Africa, encouraging communication and publications. It will, of course, be working in close collaboration with existing bodies and especially with AFREC (African Energy Commission, based in Algiers), NEPAD commissions, NGOs and UPDEA);
- Organises conferences and encounters such as the Energy and Sustainable Development Summit.
The Association is financed by membership fees, by sponsorships provided by participating companies and by advertisements in the Journal