Africa’s mining sector holds the key to the region’s electrification and economic diversification – by Jean-Claude Dastos de Morais (Huffington Post – January 20, 2016)

Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais is a private investor, philanthropist and founder of the African Innovation Foundation.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) energy system is set to expand rapidly to 2040, with urban areas experiencing significantly improved coverage and reliability of centralised electricity supply, while mini-grid and off-grid systems will increasingly provide electricity to 70% of those in rural areas. Yet, despite these positive projections made by the International Energy Agency in its 2014 report, some 530 million Africans will probably continue to remain without electricity during this period.

At present two out of every three people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. This is a terrible obstruction to the continent’s true growth potential, one that hampers the speed of economic diversification and job creation, and that feeds the cycle of poverty.

It is widely argued that in order for a more viable energy sector to take root, African nations need to step up infrastructure investments and focus on innovative approaches and technologies to leap frog economic growth. They need to pave the way for stable legal systems, predictable fiscal regimes, profit repatriation guarantees, and access to foreign exchange. The International Institute for Sustainable Development Infrastructure (IISD) defines a financially sustainable electricity sector as one that can recover costs, make investments, provide reliable electricity and meet social and environmental obligations.

While this might seem like an insurmountable challenge in the near future, there are ways to take greater strides in the short term by turning these threats and challenges into opportunities and action.

The African mining sector, holds a crucial key.

Threats and opportunities in resource nationalism…

An open knowledge report, The Power of Mine, produced by the World Bank in 2015, states that since the year 2000 the mining industry in SSA has spent around $15.3 billion on generating its own electricity – 1,590 megawatts. Bewilderingly, none of this made its way on to the national grid.

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