While I have written posts on Nigeria and regularly referenced Libya in the last half decade on the burrito, I know very little about most of Africa when it comes to energy. So it was interesting to sift through this comprehensive report from the IEA to get a better understanding of some of the broader energy trends underway. Henceforth are my ten top takeaways:
1) The current energy mix in sub-Saharan Africa is dominated by bioenergy, with fuelwood / charcoal accounting for 60%. A long way behind this is coal at 18%, then oil at 15%, natural gas at 4%, and renewables at 2%. Just as in the US, renewables are expanding rapidly, but from a small base.
2) Energy demand in sub-Saharan Africa grew by 45% from 2000 to 2012, but still only accounts for 4% of global demand (while being home to 13% of the global population).
3) Only 290 out of 915 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity. That is 625 million people without electricity. Take a moment to look at these astounding statistics:
4) 950 million people are expected to gain access to electricity by 2040. Nonetheless, more than half a billion people will remain without electricity, mainly in rural areas.
5) Demand for biomass (mostly fuelwood) is expected to increase by 40% by 2040, putting a strain on forestry stocks. 650 million people are still expected to cook with biomass in 2040 – both an inefficient and hazardous form of energy (currently 600,000 premature deaths each year in Africa are due to household air pollution from fuelwood and charcoal).
6) A half of all electricity in sub-Saharan Africa is generated in South Africa. The sub-Saharan generation mix is led by coal at 56% (think: South Africa), 22% hydro, 14% natural gas (think: Nigeria), and 9% oil.
7) Natural gas consumption is expected to quadruple by 2040, with gas-fired generation increasing to 25% of the total, from 17% currently. Gas is expected to account for 50% of the generation mix in West Africa by 2040, driven by reforms in Nigeria (hark, 9th largest proven natural gas reserves in the world).
8) Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa (about 2.5 mbpd), although it loses more than $5 billion per year due to oil theft (150,000 barrels per day). Angola is the second largest producer (about 1.8 mbpd). South Sudan, Niger, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya are lesser producers, but are expected to see rising output in the coming decades. Africa as a whole produces just shy of 10 mbpd.
9) 30% of global oil and gas discoveries made in the last five years have been in sub-Saharan Africa. The biggest issue for African energy development is that $2 out of every $3 invested into the sub-Saharan energy sector since 2000 has gone towards developing exporting capabilities, as opposed to focusing on domestic needs.
10) Under the ‘New Policies Scenario’, the IEA sees the sub-Saharan economy quadrupling in size by 2040, the population nearly doubling (to 1.75 billion), and energy demand growing by around 80%. But for this to happen, sub-Saharan Africa will need to focus on vastly expanding access to modern energy, as well as improving the capacity and efficiency of the system. By their own admission, many of these existing energy challenges are only partly overcome.