Africa represents approximately 20% of the world’s land mass, 54 countries, 14% of its population - yet only 3% of global GDP. Its potential economic growth forecasts are well documented and underpinned by a demographic premium derived from a youthful population, increasing productivity of the young workforce, urban migration and a burgeoning middle class.
Despite the recent reduction in prices of commodities and corresponding economic downturn in some countries, the continent is well positioned for decades of ‘catch-up’ economic growth. However, Africa’s growth forecasts will only be achieved if there is substantial investment in the power sector, enabling low-cost power and reliable electricity supply, a critical factor in generating sustainable economic growth.
Currently, over 600m people in Sub Saharan Africa have no access to electricity. Only seven out of 54 countries have electricity rates exceeding 50%. The rest of the continent has an average grid access rate of approximately 20%. The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa projects that power demands will increase across Africa from 590TWh in 2010, to 3,100TWh in 2040 (SSA: 1,600TWh) – an annual growth rate of 6%.
Although Sub Saharan Africa currently consumes less electricity than Brazil, it is forecast that by 2040, demand levels will equal the current combined consumption levels of Latin America and India.
Across the globe, low levels of energy supply are associated with depressed levels of human development. In Africa this association is particularly strong. The continent maintains the lowest per capita levels of electricity, and simultaneously the lowest human development rankings of any region in the world.
Access to electricity affects livelihoods from improved food storage, to business productivity, to better health. Underscoring this idea, Goal 7 of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals includes the objectives of ensuring that, by 2030, there will be universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services and increasing substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Joule Africa firmly believes in energy infrastructure as a driver of development, which is a large part of the impetus for why we do what we do.