Turning the tide in Africa’s energy sector
By Farouk Benabdoun, Sub Region head, North West Central Africa.
Achieving energy sustainability is not straightforward, but in Africa particularly there are significant hurdles to overcome. Despite an abundance of natural resources in many of its countries, there is a lack of infrastructure, regional coordination, and a shortage of investment. These issues restrain the continent’s development and poses a serious threat to its future.
Officials at climate conferences around the world talk about energy transition, generating hundreds of gigawatts from clean energy sources, switching from fossil fuels to renewables, but there are hundreds of millions of people in Africa who still lack even the most basic access to energy services. With a rapidly increasing population that is estimated to triple by 2030, the risk is that this will be exacerbated.
Africa is currently home to about 600 million people without access to electricity, which hinders socioeconomic development, by limiting access to education, healthcare, and industrial growth.
African leaders must prioritize the welfare of their citizens and their needs for reliable and sustainable power to achieve sustainable development and clean energy access for all.
"We are driven not only by the promise of sustainable energy solutions but by an ambition to end energy poverty, at Siemens Energy we have an unwavering commitment to a more equitable, sustainable, and vibrant Africa"Farouk Benabdoun, Sub Region head, North West Central Africa
Putting the People First
Sustainable change requires ambitious targets, planning, and execution.
In 2014, Egypt’s leadership made it a priority to address the country's energy crisis and took a number of steps to increase energy production by investing in new gas fields, tapping into the country’s natural wind and solar potential to expand renewable energy sources, as well as partner with experts to improve energy efficiency in its power plants.
As a result of these efforts, Egypt has become a powerhouse with stable grid electricity supply and a net exporter of energy. The Egyptian government collaborated with Siemens Energy, and successfully executed 14.4GW power projects within 27 months and fully integrated it into the grid, supplying 40 million Egyptians with reliable electricity This turnaround is a success story that demonstrates how political resolve and decisive action can be used to overcome a major challenge. The country's experience can be a model for other African countries that are struggling with energy insecurity.
Breaking the Resource Curse
Africa is a continent with vast natural resources, including high solar and wind availability, arable land, oil, natural gas, and minerals and metals. These resources have the potential to transform economies and create jobs for its growing population, as well as to support the energy transition. However, for too long, Africa has been struggling with a "resource curse." The continent's natural resources have been extracted and sold at low prices, while the value-added stages of production have taken place elsewhere. This has resulted in a loss of jobs and economic opportunities for Africans.
The energy transition presents an opportunity for Africa to break the resource curse. The continent has the potential to become a major producer of lithium batteries, which are essential for electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, and the demand for lithium batteries is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.
In order to seize this opportunity, leaders in the African continent must work together, to find experienced partners and help them achieve mutual goals.
Collaboration is Key
We recognize that each region, each country, each company, even each individual, is at their own stage in the energy transition journey. However, We work with our customers and partners to develop customized strategies that support their specific aims and goals.
Siemens Energy is collaborating with the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Presidential Power Initiative to resolve grid network challenges, improve supply of electricity to Nigerians, and improve electricity capacity, to support socioeconomic growth.
At the same time, Siemens Energy is proud to be working with the Nigerian National Climate Change Council on the implementation of the Energy Transition Plan, which will help Nigeria realize its net zero target by 2050.
Namibia and South Africa are taking a leading regional role in hydrogen and renewable energy conversations and Siemens Energy is proud to be collaborating with these countries with the aim of implementing large scale hydrogen production projects that will support the region’s demands.
With the right collaborations and partnerships Africa can position itself as a leader in the energy transition and a manufacturer of renewable energy products by investing in the development of its mining and manufacturing industries. This would create jobs, boost economic growth, and help to reduce Africa's dependence on fossil fuels.
I hope that African leaders can learn from Egypt’s energy turnaround and resolve their challenges to allow the flow of investments into Africa, enabling us to accelerate energy transition and support socioeconomic growth for generations to come.