Here’s a not too surprising but at the same time mind-blowing stat- Africa has 16% of the world’s population but creates only 4% of global electricity.Via the excellent EnviroStats! from The Economist.
Nigeria’s demand for power is an estimated 7,600 megawatts, against an actual operating capacity of 3,500MW.
The World Bank reckons that 500m sub-Saharan Africans are without what it calls “modern energy”.
Kenya’s power utility estimates that it adds 12,000 households a month to the national grid.
For now, the continent remains largely dependent on hydropower: 13 countries use it for 60% or more of their energy. But Africa’s rain falls more variably than, say, Norway’s, and its dams often operate below capacity. Still, many new dams are being planned.
On one hand this is a really sad indicator of how badly things are messed up in Africa, but on the other presents a rich opportunity for skipping by fossil fuel and moving right to renewable energy technology like solar and wind power. We’ve seen how it can work at the local level with William Kamkwamba’s amazing wind turbine. In case you missed that story, William is a teenager from Malawi who built a wind turbine using broken bike parts, assorted pieces of plastic and wood, a very old and out of date engineering text book, and a lot of natural smarts and know how. His windmill brought electricity to his family’s home for the first time and got him an invitation to speak at TED. (I’ve been corresponding with William via email trying to get him to do a bit of guest writing here, so keep your fingers crossed for me. ) Swing by William’s blog to catch up on his adventures- that guy is going to do great things in his country.