The World Economic Forum estimates that 24% of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity and the energy generation capacity of Africa (excluding South Africa) is a mere 28 Gigawatts, equal to that of Argentina alone. In fact, research by McKinsey found that Africa’s potential energy generation capacity may be more than 10 terawatts including solar. Experience has shown that renewable energy sources are the most effective and an integral part in the quest for a just energy transition.
Additionally, energy is said to be the most effective way of ensuring continuous provision of safe drinking water, regardless of the size of the supply or the level of development in each setting. Cost effective and clean energy is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and crucial to economic development. Low electrification affects the GDP per capita and the development rate of communities, with the fundamental logic that increased energy access leads to improvements in healthcare, education, life expectancy and economic opportunities.
In South Africa, Eskom’s power comes almost entirely from coal, R400-billion in debt, with ageing infrastructure that is to a greater extent, unable to meet national grid demands – Eskom plans to divide its entity into three divisions for its three primary functions: generation, transmission and distribution. The CSIR reported statistics of utility-scale power generation in South Africa for 1 Jan 2021 – 30 June 2021 at 52.6 GW of wholesale/public nominal capacity: Coal 38.7 GW; Nuclear 1.9 GW; Diesel 3.4 GW; Hydro 0.6 GW hydro and pumped storage 2.7 GW; Wind 2.6 GW; Solar PV 2.2 GW; CSP 0.5 GW. Furthermore, 725 MW of coal, 118 MW of wind and 54 MW of utility-scale solar PV became operational in the first half of 2021.
Water and energy underpin our economic development goals and water is needed at every stage of energy production. The mandate of the government is to ensure that the country’s water resources are protected, managed, consumed, developed, conserved and controlled by regulating and supporting the delivery of effective water supply and sanitation – but the secure provision of power will enable the successful execution of this mandate.
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