Libmonster ID: U.S.-1506
Author(s) of the publication: L. N. KALINICHENKO
Educational Institution \ Organization: Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: energy infrastructure. Sub-Saharan Africa, sustainable development, hydro potential, alternative energy

Ensuring access of the population to modern energy sources for African States remains one of the most important problems that need to be resolved as soon as possible. In this regard, it is important that the 65th UN General Assembly proclaimed 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All and noted the importance of investing in clean energy technologies. This initiative aims to achieve three main goals by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; reducing the intensity of global energy consumption by 40%; and increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the world to 30%.1

African countries need the help of the international community in addressing the development of energy infrastructure, which, in turn, would help to increase production efficiency, increase employment, and improve the living conditions of the population.


The total installed energy capacity of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is approximately 73 GW, which is comparable to that of Spain and slightly less than that of Italy, France or Germany. However, the population of the countries of the region is many times higher than in the mentioned countries. It is estimated that over 60% of the region's population living in poverty is deprived of access to electricity.2

The development of energy infrastructure and electrification in Africa is proceeding at a slow pace. The amount of electricity produced per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa has remained virtually unchanged since the early 1980s, accounting for only a tenth of that in South-East Asia. In rural areas, electrification does not exceed 10% of demand, while in general, in developing countries, this figure has increased in recent years to 50% .3

The vast majority of the rural population of SSA uses firewood, charcoal and various types of primitive biomass* (plant stems, agricultural waste, etc.) as fuel for domestic use. Burning biomass in low-quality stoves causes lung diseases, especially in children, and also leads to forest degradation, including in nature reserves where it is carried out. illegal logging.

Access to electricity sources in the region varies from 3% in Burundi to about 100% in Mauritius. Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe have set goals for achieving universal electrification by 2030 and developed plans for their implementation. In 30 countries, the figure is between 11 and 39%, and in 10 countries it is less than 10%, and their chances of providing the population with full electricity in the next two decades are low4.

One of the most effective ways to solve the existing problems is the option of introducing and distributing renewable energy sources. According to experts of the African Development Bank (ADB), African countries could become a "gold mine" for this energy sector - thanks to the extensive opportunities for using solar, wind, geothermal sources and, of course, traditional hydropower.

At this stage, a number of African Governments are including clean energy projects in their economic development plans, which will open up opportunities to provide access to energy for the growing rural population.

A special international conference held in Dakar in 2008 adopted a Declaration and Action Plan on expanding the Use of renewable energy Sources on the African continent. Among the main tasks formulated in these documents is the need to increase investment in this area by international organizations, foreign partners, as well as private investors. Under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), an alternative energy lending program in Africa has been developed and is being gradually implemented. 5 According to experts, invest-

* This article does not analyze the problems of using biomass.

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investment in this area of the continent's economy increased from $750 million in 2004 to $3.6 billion in 2011, while in the world, respectively, from $33 billion. up to $211 billion. This industry is projected to grow further in the African energy market6.

Among renewable energy sources, local water resources are the most important for Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for about 12% of the world's total, although approximately 7% of the potential is currently being exploited. The coefficient showing the ratio of electricity production to the technical potential of hydropower is only 4.5%, while the global average is 17.2%.7

The hydro potential of the SSA countries is mainly concentrated in the basins of the Congo, Zambezi, Nile, Niger, Limpopo, Orange, and Senegal rivers. In 19 countries in the region, hydroelectric power plants generate more than 50% of the total electricity, and this sector serves as a catalyst for economic and social development.8

The largest hydropower complexes in the region are Kabora Bassa (with a capacity of 2,075 MW) on the Zambezi River in Mozambique, Inga I (350 MW) on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Meroe (1,250 MW).* On the Nile River in Sudan. In the next decade, a number of major hydroelectric projects are planned to be implemented in Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia.9


One of the largest unique projects not only in Africa, but also in the world is the "Big Inga", which is the final part of the development of the Congo River hydro potential in the DRC. This waterway is the second in the world after the Amazon in terms of fullness and richness of fish resources. The technically developed hydro potential of the Congo River is estimated at 100 thousand tons. MW, of which more than 40 thousand fall in the area 150 km from the mouth of the river, where the Inga 10 rapids are located. The giant river basin covers the territory to the north and south of the equator, the channel is full of rapids and waterfalls, and, most importantly, the volume of water flow is relatively stable in all periods of the year.

Currently, the unique hydroelectric potential of this water basin is used by about 3%. The hydroelectric power plants of the Inga cascade began to be built 40 years ago: Inga I (with a capacity of 350 MW) was commissioned in 1972, Inga II (1,424 MW) - in 1982. From these two stations, a 1,725 km long high-voltage power line was laid in the center of the mining province of Katanga to Kolwezi and beyond to connect to the Zambian power grid. The other line is extended to Kinshasa and runs in the direction of Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo)11.

It is paradoxical that, with huge potential, only 7% of the country's population has access to energy supply. The DRC Government has long had plans to significantly expand its energy infrastructure. In this regard, a grandiose project was developed, including several stages:

- Reconstruction of the Inga I and Inga II hydroelectric power stations and construction of a 400-volt high-voltage transmission line that will extend to the capital Kinshasa in addition to the existing 200-volt line, which will significantly improve the capital's electricity supply. The World Bank (WB)is involved in financing this part of the project

jointly with the African Development Bank;

- construction of the third station of the Inga complex with a design capacity of 3.5 thousand tons. construction of the necessary infrastructure (500 volt power lines and a number of substations) for exporting energy to neighboring countries. For this part of the project, an agreement was reached in 2004 with South Africa, Namibia, Angola and Botswana on the creation of the so-called Western Corridor ( Westcor) - energy flow in the direction of these countries.;

- implementation of the Bolshaya Inga project, which involves the construction of a cascade of hydroelectric power plants with a total capacity of 40 thousand tons. MW, which is approximately equal to the capacity of all power plants in South Africa at the moment. The implementation of this seemingly fantastic part of the project opens up prospects for creating a unified energy system in Africa, in which the DRC power plants are the center; energy flows diverge from it like rays in different directions. According to experts ' calculations, the electricity produced will be one of the cheapest in the world13.

According to WB experts, the cost of constructing the Inga HPP cascade in the DRC may range from $50 to $80 billion. (including power lines), and construction will last several decades 14.

Utopian ideas are also put forward that involve channeling the waters of the Congo River to the desert regions of the continent - Namibia, Botswana, and even the delivery of Congolese water through pipelines to Egypt and then to Israel.

The Big Inga megaproject has both supporters and opponents. The first group includes a number of African economic development organizations, such as NEPAD, SADC, East African Power Pool( EAPP), Electricity Supply Commission (Eskom). The World Bank and the European Investment Fund expressed their intentions to support the project. The African Development Bank approved in 2010 the allocation of $15 million for the development of-

* The Meroe hydroelectric power station was commissioned in 2009, the general designer was JSC "Institute Gidroproekt", the construction work was carried out by Chinese specialists.

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a comprehensive study of the project. The G-20-Multilateral Development Bank ranked this project among the 10 most important initiatives aimed at transforming and developing the economy.15

South African President Jacob Zuma, speaking at the climate change conference held in Durban in July 2011, said that the day before an agreement was signed between South Africa and the DRC on the development of the Inga project. In November 2011, South Africa and the DRC signed a memorandum of understanding on the need to implement the Greater Inga project, according to which Eskom and the DRC National Energy Company Societe Nationale d'Electricite (SNEL) should work out a time frame for the implementation of the work16.

Active participation in the project of the continent's strongest economy, South Africa, may give a new impetus to the implementation of the project, which has recently been at a standstill, since the leading Australian-British mining company BHP Billiton announced the abandonment of the construction of a large aluminum plant in the DRC, namely, it was supposed to become one of the largest consumers of hydroelectric power "Inga III " 17.

At the same time, a number of politicians, economists, and representatives of charitable foundations express the opinion that the Inga project is aimed not at meeting the needs of the Congolese population for electricity, but at meeting the needs of mining companies and industrial centers outside the country and even on the continent, located mainly in Europe and the Middle East18.

Representatives of environmental movements say at various forums that the implementation of the Big Inga project will have a negative impact on the environment not only of this African country, but also of the whole world. Many Congolese will lose their homes and are unlikely to receive any compensation. This is confirmed by the fact that about 9,000 people who were evicted from their territories during the construction of the Inga I and Inga II hydroelectric power stations are still living in tent camps near Kinshasa without electricity or running water.19

When constructing power stations and laying power lines, it will inevitably be necessary to cut down some of the rain forests that represent a unique ecosystem, which can have unpredictable consequences for the planet. Dams also have a negative impact on the population of fish resources and their diversity.

Thus, we can conclude that this unique and extremely interesting project requires reflection and independent expertise.


In addition to the mega-project of hydroelectric facilities of the Inga complex, the Infrastructure Consortium of Africa (ICA), under the auspices of the ADB, has been coordinating 10 more projects for the construction of hydroelectric power plants in different countries of Africa since 2008. The main investor in this area is China.

Between 2001 and 2007, Chinese investment exceeded $3 billion. At the summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in 2009, an agreement was reached to provide China with an additional $10 billion until 2013 for the development of hydropower in the region20. China is interested in expanding the market for its many engineering and construction companies, not to mention gaining access to African natural resources.

Among other countries, India invests in hydraulic engineering projects. India Exam Bank is involved in financing the construction of dams in Ethiopia, Zambia, and Rwanda. However, the volume of investments is much smaller than the Chinese ones and is estimated at only a hundred million dollars. Approximately at this level is the size of investments of Brazilian companies that finance projects in this area in Angola, Mozambique, and Ghana.21

The implementation of most of these projects also causes controversy and controversy, which can be illustrated by a number of examples. For example, China is actively investing in developing the hydropower potential of Ethiopia, which ranks 2nd on the continent after the DRC in this indicator, while only about 2% of the country's agricultural population have access to modern energy sources. China's largest bank, ICBC, has approved a $500 million loan to supply equipment for the 1,870 MW Jibe III HPP*, and Sinohydro is interested in the Jibe IV project. 22

However, as in the above example with the development of r resources. Congo, a number of international environmental organizations, including Survival International, oppose the construction of a giant dam and reservoir on the Omo River, which flows into the drainless Lake Turkana in Kenya. Conservationists use the following arguments. First of all, the construction will destroy a unique nature reserve in the lower reaches of the river, which has about 300 species of birds and 80 species of mammals, instead of which it is planned to create sugar cane plantations with an area of about 2.5 km2, which is approximately equal to the territory of Luxembourg. This is the government's plan to increase sugar production from 300,000 to 2.3 million tons 23.

Another irreversible consequence of the construction of a hydroelectric power station may be

* In 2004, the first plant with a capacity of 184 MW was commissioned in the Omo-Jibe River basin in the south-west of the country, and the second (420 MW) and third stages are under construction.

page 8

become shallowing lake. Turkana Lake, which is one of the largest drainless lakes in the world, and the fossils found here by scientists allow us to study the history of the animal world and humanity in the last 2 million years. This ecosystem has been recognized as a protected world heritage site. In addition, it will be necessary to move about half a million people living in areas subject to flooding. At the same time, government experts say that the implementation of hydraulic engineering projects will allow the country to forget about the lack of electricity and even become its exporter.

Another example of the difficulty of choosing the right solution is Mozambique, where hydroelectric power plants generate more than 90% of electricity. The main source of energy production here is the Zambezi River hydro system, which houses one of the largest hydraulic structures in Africa - the Kabora Bassa hydroelectric power station with an installed capacity of 2,075 MW. A significant part of the electricity generated by hydroelectric power stations is exported via the transmission line system to South Africa and Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the operation of the hydroelectric power station damages the lower reaches and the Zambezi River delta, where agricultural land with extensive flood agriculture is located, as well as fishing and shrimp farming.

On the one hand, environmentalists call for measures to bring the discharge of water from the hydroelectric dam closer to natural volumes. On the other hand, the economic development plans envisage the construction of another hydroelectric power station downstream from Kabora Bassa; the project will be financed by Chinese investors through Exim Bank. Most of the electricity will be used to meet the needs of mining companies, primarily in South Africa, at extremely low prices - 1.5 cents per kWh. At the same time, a number of experts believe that it is possible to increase the efficiency of the existing power complex 24 by 3 to 5 times.

From the above examples, it becomes clear that the construction of large hydropower hubs in Sub-Saharan Africa, on the one hand, is a necessary condition for meeting the urgent needs of the economy and the population, and on the other, can cause irreparable harm to the environment. Therefore, where it is possible and cost-effective, it makes sense to limit yourself to smaller-scale projects, as well as the construction of micro-hydroelectric power plants.


In the long term, the development of African energy will largely depend on the development of alternative energy sources: solar,wind, and geothermal. This direction is particularly important for remote rural areas, as the cost of transmitting electricity from large power stations via power lines is extremely high for developing African economies.

The advantage of new energy sources is that the power of installations using solar or wind energy can vary from 1 W to several tens or hundreds of megawatts, and the failure of individual panels or turbines will not lead to a shutdown of the entire system. The absence of the need for fuel supply, as well as the low cost of maintenance and ease of maintenance, are also attractive for small rural settlements.

Realizing the importance of modernizing the economy, the Governments of the SSA countries are looking for effective solutions to the use of new energy sources, primarily solar, which has a very significant potential on the African continent. In pursuit of these goals, States develop various programs, establish appropriate support funds, organize research and train personnel.

Examples from a number of countries can be used as an illustration. So, in Ethiopia, there is an Alternative Energy Development and Promotion Center. Under its auspices, as well as with the assistance of two foundations established in the country - the Rural Electrification Fund and the Solar Energy Foundation - in the 2000s, about 4,500 farms, 200 rural medical centers and 100 schools were equipped with solar photovoltaic systems. By 2015, it is planned to equip 150 thousand more with similar installations. There are 25 items.

Efforts to introduce solar panels for electricity generation are being made both in Namibia under the Namibian Renewable Energy Program with the participation of the Solar Revolving Fund, and in Botswana under the Botswana Renewable Energy and Rural Electrification Project programs.

The Kenyan Ministry of Energy estimates that more than 220,000 units of photovoltaic panels are currently used in the country to electrify schools, hospitals and other public buildings, and in January 2010, tariffs for this type of energy were revised to encourage its use.26

A joint program of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation for the distribution of portable solar installations also operates on the continent.27

In addition to electricity, solar panels are used for lighting and to ensure the operation of pumping units (for the purpose of supplying water from wells, cleaning it, disinfecting it, and even desalination). However, the total cost of such units, including all the necessary components (modules, pumps, pipes, etc.), is quite high and therefore requires the participation of the state or

page 9

international financial organizations. For example, in Chad, similar mechanisms have been established to compensate for the loss of land in the development of oil fields.

The creation of mega-parks of solar panels or the construction of large solar power stations requires large investments, but in the future, when they are used, they pay off quite quickly and, importantly, cause minimal damage to the environment and do not pollute it with greenhouse gas emissions.

Rwanda is so far the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa where a small 250 kW solar power plant in the Kigali region is included in the low-voltage grid system.

In South Africa - in the Northern Cape area, in Upington, where there are ideal conditions for solar insolation, a mega-park of solar panels is being created, which can become one of the largest in the world. It is planned to increase its production to 5 GW, which will be a tenth of South Africa's electricity needs. The World Bank and IBRD have allocated several billion dollars for the implementation of the project. It is assumed that the implementation of the project will lead to the creation of other production facilities and a large number of jobs.28

The South African renewable Energy development program White Paper on Renewable Energy, developed in 2003, states that solar energy can be used to provide more than 20% of the country's final energy consumption in the near future. Currently, the installed capacity of systems using solar energy in South Africa reaches 12 MW. They are used mainly in the communication system, in everyday life, in water and communal services, and in agriculture.29

Sub-Saharan African countries are gradually starting to include wind energy development in their economic development plans. Wind generator parks have been developed in a number of countries, including Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa. Potential investors are being sought for their implementation.

The largest wind farm complex Lake Turkana Wind Power is being built in Kenya on the Turkana Plateau (in the north-west of the country). The total capacity of the generators will exceed 300 MW, and the construction cost is estimated at $400 million. The majority of the project (about 70%) was funded by the African Development Bank, with the rest coming from Kenyan and Dutch investors.30

A number of countries already have experience installing separate generators to provide electricity to small settlements. For example, in the Batokunku region of the Gambia, a 150 kW wind turbine supplies electricity to a village of 2,000 inhabitants.31

In the second half of the 2000s, the Technical Expertise for Renewable Energy Application program conducted research aimed at identifying the most promising areas of SSA for creating wind turbine parks. At the same time, the wind strength and speed were taken into account, since it is considered that their operation is advisable at an average annual wind speed of more than 6 m/s.

Based on this figure, Eskom has built three wind turbines with a capacity of more than 2 MW in 40 km from Cape Town (where strong and stable north-westerly winds blow). This also led to the construction of a 58 MW wind farm complex in the Port Elizabeth area of the Eastern Cape, which provided energy to about 80,000 households.32

The potential of geothermal energy sources concentrated in East Africa in the Great African Rift Valley region is also of interest. This zone (about 6 thousand people). km) passes through the territory of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia. The total potential of this type of energy is estimated at 10-15 thousand MW. Only Kenya has achieved significant results in its development; small-scale installations are also operated in Ethiopia.

The Kenyan Ministry of Energy believes that this is a very promising area, as the country's economy is highly dependent on hydropower, which is declining due to frequent droughts. Switching to expensive diesel generators will significantly increase the cost of electricity, the demand for which is constantly growing.

Kenya is one of those countries that - as part of the long - term program Kenya's Vision 2030-is actively implementing "green" energy. As part of this project, Kenya will be able to produce more than 1,200 MW by 2018. The challenge is also to integrate all sources into a single distribution network. The development of alternative energy in Kenya will help start this process in other countries of the East African Energy Pool33.

Kenya operates three geothermal installations (Olkari I, II, III) and about 20 wells, which were drilled under the auspices of the national company Kenya Electricity Generating Co Ltd (KenGen). The generated energy is used to supply rural areas, in particular for heating greenhouses and greenhouses. I must say that drilling geothermal wells requires a large investment. The cost of just one can range from $2.5 to $6.5 million. The purchase of a steam generator costs $7-8 million. However, the costs are recouped due to the low cost of operating the system.

The plans of the state-owned KenGen, as well as the Kenyan company for the development of geothermal-

page 10

Geothermal Development Company (GDC) plans to increase the capacity of geothermal installations to approximately 500 MW by 2013, and then introduce 200 MW of new capacity per year. By 2020, it is expected to reach a volume of more than 2 thousand rubles. MW, and by 2030 - 4 thousand MW 35.

When developing geothermal energy in African countries, the lack of qualified personnel remains a serious problem. Chinese specialists are used for drilling wells in Kenya. Some of the equipment is also supplied from China. Financing is provided by loans provided by the Export-Import Bank of China and the French Development Agency, as well as the World Bank. In the future, KenGen and GDC plan to attract investors and finance the development of the industry independently.36

In April 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited one of the geothermal power stations in the Naivasha area north of Nairobi, together with representatives of UNEP. He stressed the importance of developing geothermal energy for expanding the use of "green" energy and the need for assistance in this matter from the UN and other international organizations.

Currently, with the support of UNEP, the African Rift Geothermal (ARGeo) project is being funded, which provides funds for the construction of geothermal power plants, in addition to Kenya, also in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. According to experts, the introduction of this type of alternative energy in Africa will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve the environmental situation not only on the African continent, but also on the entire planet.

Thus, Sub-Saharan Africa has a great potential for alternative energy sources. If they are successfully developed, two main goals can be achieved: improving the level of economic security of the SSA States and expanding access to modern energy sources for the poorest part of the population.

* * *

In summary, it is necessary and important for developing countries in Africa to develop national policies and strategies for the use of new and renewable energy sources. When planning these processes, it is important to take into account all the pros and cons of introducing new technologies and correlate them with the interests of the local population.

When defining goals and objectives in the field of energy, it makes sense to follow the vector developed by the 65th UN General Assembly, i.e. to strive to increase access to reliable, inexpensive, cost-effective, socially acceptable and environmentally safe sources of energy supply.37


1 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All (2012)-

2 Energy Statistics Yearbook. UN. N.Y., 2011, p. 442 - 450.

3 Human Development Report 2011. Sustainable development and equal opportunities: a better future for all. UNDP. New York, 2012.

Prasad G. 4 Improving access to energy in Sub-Saharan Africa // Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2011, N 3, p. 248 - 253 -

5 International Conference on Renewable Energy in Africa. Action Plan. Dakar. Senegal, 16 - 18.04.2008 - e_Energy/Publications/druck2_final_edi

6 Renewable Energy World Africa/Conference and Expo -; Africa: Renewable Energy Rising Rapidly//Africa Focus Bulletin. 14.07.2011 -

7 XXI World Energy Congress. Montreal. Canada. Sept. 12 - 16, 2010 -

8 World Bank. World Development Indicators. UN. N.Y., 2011, p. 162 - 164.

9 Survey of Energy Resources 2010. World Energy Council, p. 310 - 333 - Report_l.pdf

Asanzi A. 10 The Inga Complex: New Hope for DRC. 16.02.2012 - /index. php?option=com-content&

11 XXI World Energy Congress...

12 Ibidem.

Asanzi A. 13 The Inga Complex...

14 Pulse of the planet. ITAR-TASS, 17.02.2012.

15 Grand Inga Hydroelectric Project. An Overview -

Janyanga P. 16 Africa Needs Green Energy, Not Grand Inga -

17 Pulse of the planet...

Bosshard P. 18 Helping the Poor by Helping the Rich? 13.02.2011 -http://www.internationalrivers/en/node/7057

19 Ibidem.

Hathaway T. 20 What is Driving Dams in Africa

21 Ibidem.

22 Chinese Dams in Africa -

Bosshard P. 23 Ethiopia's Ото Valley: a Global Heritage under Threat. 3.06.2012 - http:/

24 Eskom: Don't Dam the Zambezi. 21.06.2010 -

25 Survey of Energy Resources 2010. World Energy Council, p. 431 - Report_ 1 .pdf

26 Ibid., p. 436.

27 http://www/

28 Pulse of the planet.., 21.09.2010.

29 Survey of Energy Resources 2010.., p. 446 Report_l.pdf

30 Electrifying Africa Interest in Renewable Energy -

31 Pulse of the planet.., 5.10.2010.

32 South Africa Yearbook 2010/2011, p. 186 -

33 Planet pulse.., 1.09.2010.

34 East Africa Sees a Flurry of Geothermal Activity -

35 Ibidem.

36 Pulse of the planet.., 25.11.2009.

37 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All (2012)-


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