Power, line, electricity, cable
Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown. Photo: Beeld / Lisa Hnatowicz / Gallo Images
Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown. Photo: Beeld / Lisa Hnatowicz / Gallo Images

On Tuesday, South Africa minister of public enterprises, Lynne Brown, said that Africa’s energy shortage is a major cause of concern, adding that it is one of the biggest contributors to hampered growth and development of the continent. She stated that the continent’s power deficit was “alarming”.

Speaking at a conference in Johannesburg, Brown said that “the lack of electricity in Africa remains one of the biggest barriers to the region’s development and prosperity, and continues to trap millions of our people in extreme and abject poverty. The current energy deficit in Africa is alarming,” the African News Agency reported.

Power infrastructure requires development

Referencing the International Energy Agency, Brown noted that 10 African countries, three-quarters of the population, are living without access to electricity and in another 10, this is the case for half the population.

Unable to meet the increasing demand, the continent’s ageing and lack of power infrastructure requires critical attention and development, Brown added.

“We need to actively grow our technical and vocations skills in this area in partnerships with others in order to fast track uptake and ensure reliable energy,” she said.

She added: “I believe that the technological innovations and future expansions will definitely address the challenge of universal electrification in our countries.

“It is a huge opportunity, the challenge lies in ensuring that we leverage our technological expertise and innovation to provide energy in a cost effective manner, and at the same time grow our different countries’ domestic economies to ensure long-term sustainability.”

South African power struggle

Brown said that South Africa’s government power development process has indicated that the system could endure a supply shortfall of 6-8GW within the next decade or more as aged plants are decommissioned or are unable to sufficiently produce, media reported.

The minister said that if additional capacity is not procured it will impact negatively on the country’s growth and development, adding that power prices would spike if these were determined by market forces, African News Agency reported.

Brown noted: “The push for increasing market influence into electricity network, especially through the mechanisms of privatisation and public-private partnerships, call for an increased introspection into the demand and supply networks, our utility and an ongoing assessment of the structure of Eskom.”