Rural Africa in Dire Need of Electrical Power-based Technology Innovation

Rural Africa in Dire Need of Electrical Power-based Technology Innovation

From Esi Africa

Though urbanisation is underway in Africa as it is in other parts of the world, the continent’s population remains more rural than urban. Figures from 2010 indicate that while Africa had an urban population of some 400 million people, over 620,000 people still live in rural areas. The projection for 2030 is that the continent will have an urban population of some 750 million people but a larger rural population of over 800 million.

Figures from the International Energy Agency indicate that 59% of Africa’s population has no access to electricity but the figures skew further in comparing urban to rural populations, with 85% of the latter without access to electricity. Based on current development trends, by 2030 almost 600 million of the rural population in Africa will remain without access to electricity.

According to Engineering and Technology magazine power grids in rural Africa currently tend to be powered by diesel generator sets that often run for 24 hours a day. While relatively cheap to buy, speedy to install and simple to use, diesel generator sets burn a lot of fuel, push out CO2 and require a lot of refuelling and maintenance. Rising diesel prices and environmental concerns are driving grid operators to reconsider this option.

While further investigation and analysis is required, it has been recognised that throughout sub-Saharan areas in particular – where transport infrastructure is immature, fossil fuels are unsubsidised and, according to IEA data, 99.6% of the African population without electricity access is concentrated – renewable energy technologies offer opportunities to improve access to energy for rural communities. However, to meet demand, investors will need to push energy production to high levels of sustainability.

Read more at esi-africa.com