21 August 2012 – According to a recent study by the World Bank’s African Energy Unit (AFTEG), of the 54 African nations, 25 face an energy crisis and experts estimate that unless stronger commitments are put in place to reversecurrent trends, half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa will remain without electricity by 2030.

A UNenvironmental program estimates that within Africa the power sector needs to install 7,000 MW of newpower generation each year. Some of the issues facing sub-Saharan Africa, cited by the AFTEG, are poor reliability of the system withpower outages estimated on average as 56 days a year translating into an estimated loss of 6% to 20% ofrevenue.

The cost of electricity is increasing and is higher than in the developed world. Within Africa theaverage tariff is US$0.13 per kilowatt hour compared to US$0.04 to US$0.08 in developed countries. This islargely due to the use of expensive diesel generators as primary and back”up power supply.

South Africa, the continent’s dominant producer of electricity, has on-going energy shortages which are driving higher energy prices. The pressure on theexisting infrastructure continues, with Eskom, the major utility, appealing for urgent reductions indemand by 10% or some 3,000 MW to enable it to sustain a ramp up of planned maintenance activities and createcapacity for continued economic growth. Eskom currently has a typical available capacity in the region of 37,000 MW taking into account plant maintenance and unplanned outages.