The World Bank’s Africa Energy Unit (AFTEG) estimates that 25 of Africa’s 54 nations face an energy crisis. However, Paul Fitzsimons, power and energy general manager at multi-disciplinary engineering and science consulting company Gibb, wonders whether the continent is facing an insurmountable energy crisis or whether its current predicament is merely confirmation that Africa is poised for massive economic development and growth.
“The continent’s planned increase in power consumption,” Fitzsimons says, “is perhaps evidence that it is on the verge of a significant economic upswing pattern.” He adds that, despite conventional energy savings, consumption may be changing in line with new technology and demand sources.
Fitzsimons says there are two major threads to South Africa’s energy developmental plans. “Social access is the one, for example household electrification in deep rural areas, and industrial development the other.” There needs to be a balance of the two, he says, “we need economic growth to help fund social development and we need social development with the resultant improved health and education etc. to provide the knowledge workers for tomorrow’s industries,” ESI-Africa reports.