The newly released report outlines the objectives and pressures facing Africa’s energy sector. Despite energy playing a pivotal role to the growth of the modern economy, the Africa Energy Review 2022, suggests that nearly one billion of Africans lack access to clean, sustainable and affordable energy. The review found that the shortage of electricity in African countries is equivalent to 1% of the global average.
To bring Africa up to the world average for electricity access, and to meet decarbonisation commitments as well as to bridge the energy poverty gap, PwC estimates that Africa would need to arrange for an additional 2,354GW of renewable generation by 2050.
According to the researchers, this is an increase of nearly forty times the current installed renewables capacity of 59GW. Therefore, estimated to cost Africa roughly $2.6 trillion, which is approximately the current size of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The report enumerates various factors contributing to a rapidly changing global landscape including climate change policy pressure, geo-political tensions such as the Ukraine conflict, societal changes triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and a greater awareness of planetary boundaries and social justice.
Africa should optimise fossil fuels
Africa has a great energy potential in fossil fuel and renewable energy resources, according to the PwC researchers. This can be done through optimisation of value from its fossil fuel endowments, through a just transition to support sustainable development of green energy base.
The report also states that there is an increment in potential investment and foreign earnings from the export fossil fuels, predominantly with natural gas. Furthermore, the continent also has high-quality renewable resources across solar, wind, geothermal and hydro. PwC researchers also put emphasis on statistics showing that, despite the quality of Africa’s renewable resources, it still has less than 1% of global installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity as an example.
Possible solutions to make green energy affordable to Africa
If Africa is left to self-fund and forced to forfeit its fossil fuel endowment, solving energy poverty and transitioning to green energy will become unaffordable. This is according to the PwC’s Africa Energy, Utilities and Resources Leader, Andries Rossouw. He suggests that the developed world needs to support Africa’s energy growth as part of its just transition commitment.
To turn the tide on the continent’s energy poverty and achieve a just energy transition, Rossouw says that a significant increase in energy sector investment is required. “If these investments can harness the abundant, quality renewable resources, enabled by strong local policy and sector reform, then Africa will attract large-scale international support and sustainably transition to become globally competitive, meeting both the needs of the planet and its people.”
The report further highlighted key issues which include:
The cost of unserved energy. The report outlines the cost of unsaved energy, which in South Africa is known as loadshedding. It highlights that in South Africa, the state power utility shed 2,276 GWh of power in the first half of 2022, to maintain a stable power grid. PwC estimates this cost of unsaved energy at between USD2.54/kWh and USD2.88/kWh.
Climate change, energy law and policy lack coherence. This report also gauges international climate policy and the commitments which are set out in African National Determined Contributions which have resulted in the rapid adoption of domestic climate change laws and policies.
“It is clear that Africa is committed to decarbonise and scale up renewable energy generation, however, much is still required to enable greater investment through market reform, strong regulatory frameworks and incentive mechanisms”, Asif Joosub, PwC Africa’s International Trade and Environmental Tax Lead.
PwC’s Africa Energy Review 2022 is available online.