•  |   1

    Hi folks! Let me say I am happy to be back. I have been following the discussions. Heavy work schedules have been 'denying' me time to share my thoughts but not this time. First of all, let's go back to the preamble. Are you saying "Only 28 percent of Africa's rural communities have currently access to energy'? Is it energy, modern energy or electricity? It is not clear. If it is energy then it is not true, else they would all have perished by now. The definition must be checked.  Then also looking at the map legend, indicating generation of electricity in billions of kWh. In my view, it does not make that much sense. A country is generating billions of electricity and for what purpose? The key is usage. If Nigeria with population of about 200 million is generating that much and yet the universal coverage of public electricity is less than 50% then it is not impressive. Compare to South Africa with a population of about 60 million with installed capacity over 65,000 MW and national grid or public electricity coverage of over 85%, that is encouraging. Again compared to Nigeria's installed capacity of less than 10,000 MW. So I suggest we reproduce the map to reflect national public or grid electricity coverage and or kWh per capacity. Mozambique in that category is also not a true reflection considering that most of the electricity produced is wheeled to South Africa. Here I am not talking of just electricity, if just electricity, then coverage in Nigeria rises to over 50% due to large penetration of private gensets.

    Now back to the question. From Ghana's experience, it is not that much a problem when applied to potable water sales. Already rural communities have their own way of paying for potable water; some pay by per bucket full, some also pay on monthly bases largely for the maintenance of the water system, being borehole or standing water tap. Electricity however is the challenge. Of course, water is life and there is no substitute. But without electricity, one would still survive.

    There are however interesting developments taking place in off-grid areas. Rural dwellers are moving away from kerosene lamps to dry-cell or battery-powered lamps which provide superior lighting; they find the lamps largely coming from China, cheaper and easy to operate. Also clean, no fumes. The challenge has been with the replacement of the dry cells. In fact kerosene lamp use dropped from 52% in 2000 to just 18% in 2010 whilst battery lamps jumped from below 1% to 18% in 2010.

    Those who can afford move on to solar lanterns which has also become very popular. The energy sector ministry has so far sold over 3 million units to rural dwellers.

    I guess I have written a lot for now. I will come back as the discussion progresses.

    • Dear Joseph,

      Thank you for taking time to collaborate on the subject. You are indeed correct, I've changed the wording to reflect access to power and not access to energy. It is encouraging to read about the progress Ghana made pertaining to superior and cleaner lighting. In addition, to read about the communities approach to access to clean water furthermore offers valuable insight. One important dynamic, as you eluded to, is to understand consumer behaviour relating to a service that is important for rural communities but not an absolute necessity, as with water. Distributed and cleaner power will come at a significant cost, especially in its infancy, and therefore the local consumer remains a key component in the business case. Distributed power is required, as one of the means to generate power, to address the power deficit in Africa. It offers many advantages such as higher power efficiency, lower investment, shorter implementation time frames etc. In the short-term one can focus on the business case "hot-spots" however this will only address the deficit in a fragmented manner. The local consumer therefore must be considered.