World Energy Council survey reveals the top issues on Africa’s energy agenda

JOHANNESBURG – Energy poverty, energy-water nexus, large-scale hydropower, and regional interconnection are what Sub-Saharan African energy leaders consider as the top issues driving the African energy agenda this year, according to the 2013 World Energy Issues Monitor published by the World Energy Council (WEC).

The study also reveals that African energy leaders are worried that trade barriers to energy goods might hamper efforts in providing secure, affordable, and cleaner energy for Africa’s sustainable development.

Unlike other world regions, energy poverty and the energy-water nexus are perceived in Africa as issues requiring immediate action.  Energy poverty, in particular, has long been an immediate priority for Africa as more than 30% of the continent’s population do not have access to electricity. The WEC report further reveals that energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy pricing are seen as issues that also require immediate, bold action.

Speaking about the findings today at the Africa Energy Indaba conference, Dr Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council and author of the report, said:

“Only by understanding the priority issues can we seek to find solutions. The issues of regional interconnection, trade barrier, energy-water nexus, and large-scale hydropower cannot be addressed by any single country alone.  The African study of our 2013 World Energy Issue Monitor clearly shows the imperative for countries to work together in finding a solution.”

Professor Abubakar Sambo, the World Energy Council’s Vice-Chair for Africa, said:  

“Our continent’s immense resources have strong potential to boost energy access and improve the lives of our people.  The opportunities are huge: in renewables and energy efficiency, our hydrocarbon reserves, and our huge gas reserves. But in order to capitalise on these, there needs to be improved regional interconnection and more concerted efforts across national borders.”

The 2013 World Energy Issues Monitor is the latest of the WEC’s annual assessment of the issues keeping energy leaders awake at night.  These are the issues considered to impact on the global and regional energy sector, based on the views of the WEC’s energy leadership community.  It identifies the key uncertainties while highlighting the areas where action is most required to enable the sustainable supply and use of energy.

The report finds that African energy leaders’ concerns are aligned with global issues such as the absence of a climate framework, the economic pressure generated by the global recession and rising energy prices, and the vast potential of renewables and energy efficiency.

For the first time, the study this year includes specific assessments of selected countries: Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Switzerland.

For South Africa, the critical uncertainties are climate framework, unconventionals, and electric storage for integrating renewables into the energy system. Meanwhile, the energy-water nexus issue requires further action given the country’s struggle to maintain the security of water supply.

Brian Statham, Chair of the South African National Energy Association (SANEA), the WEC’s member committee in South Africa, commented:

“Energy leaders need to focus resources on resolving these uncertainties if South Africa is to achieve its aspiration of universal energy access, responsible environmental custodianship and uncompromised energy security.  Bold and visionary policy that stimulates trust and co-operation between public and private sectors, coupled with regulatory and fiscal consistency, will be essential. There is an urgent need for action and delivery on these aspirations.”

The African findings of this year’s report was unveiled today at the 5th Africa Energy Indaba, the WEC’s annual African event where government ministers, senior executives, regional development organisations, and other thought leaders gather for discussions.

Christoph Frei commented:

“Achieving action on the critical energy issues requires informed and balanced dialogue. As premier annual energy event of Africa, the Africa Energy Indaba offers the much-need platform for energy leaders to carry out such dialogue.”


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