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Increasing Sustainable Energy Access For African Nations

Meeting the regional energy demands has been a tough feat for many African countries. Since energy is crucial for achieving growth and development, most of the region’s economic issues are dependent on energy. From poverty reduction, food security, increased access to sanitation and safe drinking water, to health promotion and disease prevention, energy is essential. Many rural areas in Africa do not have adequate access to modern-day energy services – certain studies suggest that many Africans still rely on coal, charcoal, animal waste or wood for heating water and cooking food.  These economic challenges can be considered as a barrier for the eradication of poverty, as well as for the economic and social development in the region. Developing sustainable energy sources, therefore, is very important for ensuring equal energy distribution in the region.

The current energy mix in the continent

Energy revolution is taking place around the world – several countries have developed their own source of energy to increase their independence and sustainability. The only way to achieve this feat is to consider all energy options available, most especially in the renewable energy aspect. By becoming energy independent, a nation can reduce energy imports and boost their energy security. For Africa, meanwhile, discovering sustainable energy options is intricate.

Experts believe that the appalling energy climate in some African nations is a hindrance for energy development. Only few countries have been successful in adopting sustainable energy, while some have deteriorated and stagnated. The main reason for the failure in energy adoption has been linked to incompetent policy implementation and mismanagement. According to a latest energy survey conducted by the World Bank, only 30 of the 54 African countries have progressive sustainable energy sources. Twenty four African nations are still experiencing energy crisis to date, lacking even the basic energy facilities necessary to provide energy for the African people.

Power generation in Africa is mostly dominated by fossil fuel sources, contributing to approximately 60% of the overall energy in the region. Hydropower (33%) and coal power (7%), on the other hand, are the next energy sources. However, these energy sources are limited and not properly distributed, presenting a major challenge in the continent.

Adopting sustainable energy for African nations

Sustainable energy advocates stress that the key to achieving Africa’s energy independence is to have a mix of several sustainable energy sources, including wind, geothermal, solar, hydro and biomass. These sustainable energies can help Africa solve their lack of energy challenges and dependence towards imported energy sources.

There should be a well-guided energy policy that will help attract foreign investors and local stakeholders to promote and fund sustainable energy development. Africa has the potential to develop “green” energy sources, because most of the options are widely available. The only problem as of the moment is that many of these untapped sustainable energy sources are located in underdeveloped areas. Therefore, it is the role of the government officials as well as private and public sectors to identify what their potentials are in order to create an environment ready for sustainable energy development.

Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa is a change advocate who strongly believes that being able to independently produce energy for mass consumption will help African people move towards great future. Energy being a major factor in progress will not only sustain life but produce livelihood as well.

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