EXCLUSIVE: Africa seeing light at the end of the tunnel
MOSCOW, (CAJ News) – WITH overseas countries pouring and pledging billions in investments in the energy sector in Africa, the prospects of empowering more than 600 million people without access to power have never shone this bright in the continent.
Some 621 million Africans have no access to electrical energy, much to the prevalence of poverty, stunted economic growth.
The situation is dire in most parts of the continent, even in countries hailed as the biggest economies in the vast continent, such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya where load shedding is commonplace.
If ambitious investments Russia has lined up in nuclear energy projects in Africa are anything to go by, this would soon be a thing of the past.
Over the past few years, the biggest country in the world by area has ambitious plans to invest in nuclear projects in Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda.
Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation has been at the centre of negotiations to build nuclear power plants in these countries.
Viktor Polikarpov, regional vice-president of Rosatom for Africa, said contrary to some reservations, modern Russian nuclear projects corresponded with all international specifications including post-Fukushima safety requirements and the International Atomic Energy
Agency safety standards.
Rosatom, which recently signed a US$50 billion strategic partnership in South Africa, is said to be the world’s only company offering a complete nuclear power cycle.
It offers a complete range of nuclear power products and services from nuclear fuel supply, technical services and modernization to personnel training and establishing nuclear infrastructure.
Polikarpov, whose key responsibilities include overseeing, implementing and managing all Russian nuclear projects in Sub-Sahara African region, explained an interview that the advantages of nuclear, among other things, is the procurement of local suppliers to partner with Rosatom.
“This will have a powerful impact to the development of local businesses contributing to the country’s economy and international investment which will boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he said.
Rex Essenowo, Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), based in Russia, expressed at excitement at plans to end the West African country’s power woes.
Nigeria, the continent’s biggest country by population and GDP, has more than 55 percent of its 173 million population without access to electricity.
“Nigeria is really in need of power supply. We are still lagging far behind. We are a country of about 200 million people, which is much bigger that Russia, by almost 50 million,” Essenowo said.
Dr Scott Firsing, a visiting Bradlow fellow at the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), highlighted the environmental
advantages of nuclear energy.
“Africa and the world needs nuclear, along with solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal, for cleaner energy. I believe nuclear will always have a role in energy generation because it’s the best way of producing large amounts of carbon-free electricity,” Firsing said.
While Russia’s efforts to end the continent’s power woes are centred on nuclear, the United Kingd om’s are based on solar.
Energy Africa, an initiatives that makes the most of the continent’s abundant solar has been recently announced.
The initiative is envisaged to help bring universal energy access in the continent forward from the year 2080 to 2030.
United Kingdom International Development Minister, Grant Shapps, expressed concern at the prevalent lack of access to electricity in Africa.
“It is shocking that around two out of three of the African population have no electricity in their homes. This not only holds back individuals, but entire nations. It prevents businesses from trading and holds back economic growth – indeed outages cost African countries 1,2 percent of their annual GDP,” he said.
He was confident people’s lives could be transformed with the installation of solar panel systems.
“The technology is there – all we have to do is remove the barriers stifling the market. This is what Energy Africa will help do.
“It has the power to help millions of Africans lift themselves out of poverty and transform the prospects of an entire continent – something that is good for Africa but good for Britain too.”
The African Union Commission has endorsed the initiative.
The campaign will involve key stakeholders including African Governments, donors, investors and lenders, industry, non-governmental organisation, and the public.
Some 621 million Africans live without access to electricity.
With an official population of more than 1,1 billion Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. Its potential lies in the abundance of renewable energy resources.
– CAJ News
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