Bill Gates
Bill Gates. Pic credit: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

On Sunday, Bill Gates, co-founder of the largest PC software company Microsoft, addressed a gathering at the University of Pretoria, where he spoke of the continent’s desperate need for increased electrification.

According to Tech Insider, Gates highlighted that 7 out of 10 Africans lack access to power.

He added that over 500 million Africans will not have access to electricity in 2040, which means that holistic economic growth will remain far out of reach.

An energy miracle is needed

Gates said: “In the long run, what Africa needs is what the whole world needs: a breakthrough energy miracle that provides cheap, clean energy for everyone.”

Speaking at the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, the philanthropist was directing his message towards ‘Mission Innovation’, a collaboration between governments and business people alike, which seeks to boost energy R&D spending throughout the world, as the kind of change we need, Tech Insider reported.

According to media, in 2015 Gates highlighted this notion of an ‘energy miracle’ during an interview: “When I say ‘an energy miracle’ I mean that there will be some form of energy whose 24 hour cost really is competitive with hydrocarbons given, say, 20 years of learning curve.

“You invent it, then you look at how much its costs go down over the next 20 years, that it really beats hydrocarbons.”

He continued: “You might say, well, aren’t people saying that about wind and solar today? Not really. Only in the super-narrow sense that the capital costs per output, when the wind is blowing, is slightly lower.”

Boost renewable power

According to media, Gates suggests that Africa, particularly East Africa, should invest in renewable sources like geothermal and hydropower.

With numerous government-driven initiatives to increase the rate of electrification, Gates believes that much more still needs to be done.

“There has been a lot of experimentation with small-scale renewable energy, including micro solar,” Gates said during the lecture.

“This approach can provide individuals with some electricity for basic purposes, but it’s not going to be the solution for the continent as a whole.”

 

Featured image: Vincent Kessler/Reuters