Africa’s energy future after the Cop 21
|juin 27, 2016||Posté par Pierre Papon sous Articles||
Africa is both considered as the continent of the future, being young and resources provided, as well as a source of commiserations because its population is subjected to serious health crises, such as the recent epidemic caused by the Ebola virus, with few improvements in their living standards, and it suffers from regional conflicts. Moreover, with regard to energy, the recent fall in oil prices weakens the economies of countries such as Algeria, Angola and Nigeria. In 2014, meanwhile a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) (IEA, Africa Energy Outlook, 2014, www.iea.gouv ), had presented a rather optimistic view of Africa’s energy outlook. What is it about today?
Few facts must be first presented (see the interesting study of the Fondation Jean-Jaurès, Energy in Africa in 2050, in April 2016, www.jean-jaures.org ). With a population representing 15% of the world one’s, Africa consumes only 3% of the world energy, fossil fuels being half of its primary energy mix. It is a « fractured » continent with strong regional disparities in energy consumption : North and South Africa together representing 30% of Africa’s population but 80% of its energy consumption, electrification in sub-Saharan Africa is insufficient (two-thirds of the population being without electricity access , the map represents the population share without access to electricity in Africa, source : IEA WEO 2014 ), bioenergy (primarily wood) constituting nearly half (47%) of primary energy. According to the World Bank, the average economic growth rates in sub-Saharan Africa over the period 2000-2012 was significant (4.8% per year, compared to 8.7% in the East Asia and 3,2% in Latin America) and Africa has not remained on the sidelines of the globalization process. However, there exists also (cf. B. Maffei and R.Greggio, « The energy transition, an opportunity for Africa » in After Cop 21, Technip, Paris, 2016) a huge disparity between energy consumption per capita in Africa and in the world developed countries : on average 0.4 toe for primary energy in Africa in average (but 2 toe in South Africa) against 3.7 toe toe in France and 8 toe in North America, electricity consumption per capita (600 kWh) is the fifth of the world average one with very strong regional disparities (1200 kWh in Algeria versus 150 kWh in Togo).
Africa is generally well endowed with energy resources but with a strong unequal geographical distribution. It owns 10% of global oil reserves, localized mainly in North and West Africa (Angola and Nigeria), gas resources being also important in North Africa (65% of Algeria’s energy mix) and in the West, discoveries having made recently in Mozambique, Tanzania and Egypt. One might observe that one third of world oil and gas reserves discoveries during the last five years has been achieved in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa (70% of its energy mix) and Zimbabwe are well endowed with coal. Hydroelectricity resources are also important, but underutilized, in Eastern and Central Africa (Congo and Nile basins where large dams are under construction , the picture represents the Renaissance dam in Ethiopia three times the power of the Assuan dam in Egypt). Renewable energy potential (solar and Wind) besides hydroelectricity is certainly important, but it is beeing developed slowly (with a promising start meanwhile for solar concentration plants in Morocco). Let us recall, finally, that African households are still using too often polluting energies at home : 700 million sub-Saharan Africa people use biomass energy stoves for cooking (with wood, straws, etc. as fuels) emitting polluting fumes (small particles) which are the cause, according to WHO, of respiratory diseases particularly affecting women and children, causing about 600 000 premature deaths per year.
Demographic pressure is a major problem for Africa’s future, the UN « expecting » a strong population growth. Africa’s population would thus increase from 1.2 billion in 2014 to 2 billion in 2050, with particularly a strong growth in sub-Saharan African countries (almost 150% in West Africa, Eastern and Central, Nigeria would count 400 million people and Niger 80 millions), and urban population would also grow (see A.Parant, Futuribles, Vigie report 2016 www.futuribles.com). Energy needs will probably increase in urban areas (with a chaotic car traffic), so that we can reasonably foresee a strong growth in energy demand for the continent. The IEA assumed thus, in its 2014 scenarios that the economy growth would average 4.7% per year for Africa as a whole but 5.1% for Sub–Saharan countries (6.4% for Nigeria but only 2.8% for South Africa!). These prospects were probably too much optimistic because, since then, the political and economic context has changed (with growing insecurity in some areas) and we must therefore carefully reconsider energy demand to a distant horizon as 2050. We can assume that in a scenario corresponding to the Paris agreement objectives (a temperature increase in the atmosphere below 2 ° C) Africa’s energy demand would increase from 750 Mtoe in 2013 to 1.5 billion toe in 2050 (1.2 billion toe in 2040 according to IEA).This would be accompanied by a doubling of CO2 emissions which, meanwhile, would represent only 3% to 4% of the world’s one. Electricity demand will be growing strongly: it would quadruple in sub-Saharan Africa where, however 250 to 400 million people would still remain without electricity access in 2050. Natural gas would become the first primary resources in North Africa, bioenergy remaining in first place in sub-Saharan Africa with an increasing share of renewable energy in electricity production.
African countries that have been active in the Cop 21 negotiations, have proposed reasonable national objectives for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions (- 23% between 2012 and 2030 compared to recent trends for the Ivory Coast), a decrease of their CO2 emissions being not expected before 2050. They also aspire to develop renewable energy (a 42% share in the electricity mix of the Ivory Coast in 2030). However, Africa will have to solve a complicated equation in which energy must take into account several priorities. The first one being probably to achieve access for all to modern and « clean » energy and in particular to electricity. A rebalancing of the primary energy in favor of renewable energies is probably possible with a rise of hydropower and solar energy. Replacing domestic use of polluting energy sources for cooking is an absolute necessity given its strong health impact, it is just a technically feasible problem, solutions being inexpensive (using stoves fueled with LPG, kerosene or biogas). Universal access to electricity calls, however, diversified policies and solutions whether it concerns urban or rural areas. In rural areas, solar and wind energy (on the coast for the latter) as well as mini-hydraulics where it is possible are probably well suited for those areas which avoid network construction. However, caution is probably necessary because there is a lack of experience on using solar photovoltaic panels in sub-tropical regions (especially their humidity resistance). Electrification of urban areas suppose, however, being able to deliver them high powers, the use of gas for medium to high power plants (South Africa favoring coal and considering nuclear) and of hydroelectricity is probably necessary. This requires the construction of dams and power networks interconnected on a regional scale, they are necessarily costly solutions. Improving the efficiency of energy systems is a second priority, it is essential in transport, mainly provided by road with aging and polluting vehicle fleets which will likely increase. New regional rail links to ease road traffic are in progress, including, in Western Africa one 2500 km railroad line Abidjan-Lome (serving Cotonou, Niamey and Ouagadougou). Similarly, energy saving in the construction of buildings is a necessity in view of an urbanization of the population. Integrating a minimum of practical reflections on energy use in education, increasing training possibilities for careers in the energy and support to R & D and innovation is a third priority because Africa needs access to technical expertise and solutions tailored to local contexts. For these energy promises to materialize, three key conditions must be met: – a strong growth in investment in energy (which IEA estimated at $ 110 billion / year), particularly for power infrastructure – a better integration of regional efforts to pool infrastructures and expertise – progress in governance in particular to make better use of the oil wealth.
The next climate conference, the Cop 22, will be held in Morocco, in Marrakech in November 2016, and energy issues will likely be raised again. For African countries, in fact, energy use, a factor of climate change, will have a significant impact in many parts of Africa, but it is also a key condition for their development. Ensure access for all to energy is a matter of fairness. Under these conditions, North-South and South-South technology transfer policies is an important item on the agenda of the Cop 22.