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Can Africa sort out its electricity problems?

Charlotte Attwood | 13:34 UK time, Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Africa Kicks bus has now made its way to the capital city of Ghana, Accra. Africa Have Your Say is live from the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and we'll be talking about how to resolve Africa's electricity problems.

Two days ago the Ghanaian government increased the price of electricity in the country by over 40%. This is in a country grappling with constant black outs where millions fear power cuts will prevent them following the progress of the Black Stars at the World Cup.

These problems are certainly not restricted to Ghana. The Africa Kicks team experienced two consecutive days of power interruptions when we were in Ivory Coast, earlier this week.

How can Africa sort out its electricity problems? What's the power situation in your country? How have electricity shortages affected your life? Do you feel electricity is a priority for your government? Are we just too reliant on electricity? Should there be an alternative? What radical solutions do you have? Send us your views.

To debate this topic LIVE on air on Thursday 3rd June at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number.




  • Comment number 1.

    Not being familiar with Ghana's problems with electricity, I must not comment on it. But I do know that in Nigeria, there has been no serious effort at providing mains electricity. What we've had instead have been countless fraudulent schemes designed literally to reward certain individuals for all manner of past favours. Hence, wheareas billions of dollars are routinely 'set aside' for electricity, only those able to afford generators can have light (that's if they can find the fuel to run them). And of course, where you have a demand for generators which can't be produces locally, you'll have govt cronies who have exclusive import licences.

    So ours is a self-perpetuating cycle of venality and failure.

  • Comment number 2.

    It is for the Ethiopian government. Ethiopia is spending billions of dollars erecting dams to generate Hydro electricity, that are environmentally safe. Ethiopia already has inaugurated, four big dams, and is working on a few more, making the country completely energy self-sufficient, and able to export to Kenya, and Sudan.

  • Comment number 3.

    In order to avoid Chinese aluminum tubes dumping into Europe while satisfying trade needs, at low cost, macro projects for development must focus on making energy plants.

    These plants will canalise energy from wasted gas when extracting oil from underground in west Africa towards Spain.

    Throughout the way, energy can be complemented with renewables, and be distributed throughout the north of Africa along the way to Spain.

    Europe's energy dependency on Russia will end, EU-China trade relations will improve, Africa with energy/electricity will start speeding the process for industrial development.

    However, lacking political will because of clashing interests will make of such an idea an utopian though.

  • Comment number 4.

    In my country Sierra Eeone ELECTRICITY is a priority of our government and i will say that some progress have been made, even thou there was problem regarding corruption in the process of out sourcing a company for that process. Well basicaly it affect me more when i want to charge my mobile phone or want to have a cold drink. reliant or not we need electricity. The alternative solar energy or hudro as we are donig now in Sierr Leone.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    The power situation in Nigeria is not good. Virtually every house have a small generator popularly refered to as 'I better pass my neighbor.' It is very sad that in this day and age, Nigeria and some other African countries are still grappling with electricity generation. This is having a serious effect on the economy as a lot of foreign businesses are leaving the country due to the high cost of diesel for their generating plant. It is time for the new government to declear a state of emergency in the power sector and do something urgently to address the issue. Nigeria have enough gas for turbines to produce electricity, Sunlight for solar, rivers for hydro electricity, Wind and nuclear power plants. The electric companies are making consumers to pay for electricity when they are only enjoying for fews hours a day. Consumers should be made to pay for the number of hours they had it for in a month. The government should set up a consumer protection agency and put an end to reaping consumers off. I have seen people travelling three to four miles to charge their phones.

  • Comment number 8.

    Of course the answer is “Yes”. Africa can solve its electricity problems if it is determined to do so.
    Africa is a continent endowed with all kinds or natural resources, water, sun, not to mention crude oil/petroleum. If a country like China with a population of a billion or more can supply it citizens with stable electricity, I do not see any reason why Africa cannot solve it energy problems. I have heard stories that Generator makers and their suppliers have so much vested interest in unstable electricity supply in a country like Nigeria that they would do everything to sabotage any effort to provide stable and reliable electricity. They believe it would cut into their business or profits. In other words, these people and their friends benefit from status quo. It is a shame. The sooner leaders across the continent realize that a stable electricity supply is the engine to other infracture and a sustainable development, the better.

  • Comment number 9.

    A Haa. Electricity, an uninterrupted, sustained electricity in Africa. It is avery big IF. Everybody knows that without reliable electricity in what ever form in any society, there is no economic sustenance. Neither could any industrialization however rudimentary take place. Without a scintilla of doubt, Africa is very capable of providing and nurturing her own electrical energy given the enormously abundant energy and natural resources-coal,uranium,petroleum, sun,wind-that Africa has. But then you ask why is Africa so bereft and wanting in electricity or electrical energy production? Simple answer: insidious corruption and lack of foresight coupled with lawless recklessness on the part of the so-called elites of the continent.

  • Comment number 10.

    Yes, Africa can solve its energy crisis. In Nigeria for instance, we waste a lot of natural resources in sunlight. How can we not have companies that produces solar panels locally for cheap? How could our government be importing solar panels and solar street lights when they could set up industries or give generous incentive to investors who are interested in this business.Imagine the potential employment opportunites we are missing. Domestic users should be encouraged to explore solar energy and relieve other sectors until we can generate enough.

  • Comment number 11.

    the world have to help ethiopia to build dams around Nile so that it can help africa by selling its power!!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    I am a pro Africa for Africans drive but I must admit our technolgy as a race s is backward. therefore d poweor problem shld be treated as GSM was so it shd be efective

  • Comment number 13.

    Efficient Power is very important in development.But we must be ready to pay the real cost of its usage and impact on the environment.

    We need to acquire Intelligent grid system where power generation,distribution,marketing and consumption will be liberalised,with more competition and innovation,like the communication industry.

    In every part of the world energy industry is been over subsidised considering the environmental foot prints it leaves.

  • Comment number 14.

    Africa’s electricity problem is simply unfathomable considering that most renewable energy seems abundant out there and does not require substantial capital injection to be acquired. From solar energy to geothermal, Africa has a huge potential and can tap into these forms of energy without facing unnecessary increases to the price of electricity. But first, African consumers must demand it their governments for their governments to make this their priority and explore alternative energy as alternative options. There are many companies willing to offer their services out there, so if the government can't supply, let the private sector take over.

  • Comment number 15.

    With the exception of South Africa and Egypt which generate more that 70 % of all Electricity generated in Africa. Other African countries MUST embrace small pico or micro hydro power plants.

    In Uganda, areas 40 kms away from the capital (kampala) never have electricity EXCEPT for those along the high ways, The high ways make the road users to assume things are normal electricity wise! BUT ITS NOT TRUE

    Many African countries are doing agriculture, if on would ask 'What do we with the Agricultural waste?" Bio-energy has a huge potential in Africa, proper planning needs to be taken for this to happen.

    Please: Could we talk (at a future date) about 'Sustainable waste management in Africa?

  • Comment number 16.

    as long as Africa will not tackle one problem which is corruption combined with lack of awareness, they will not have stable electricity, water, good roads.a continent where this is a social norm even amongst families.secondly we african must know that services like electricity, roads, water supply etec are not for FOC, and even so the people collecting the bills should not embezzled the money because the plants needs maintenance and modernisation.
    we should also not forget about enormous wastage that is going on in Africa. Eg while travelling in Nigeria last year from Abuja towards Enugu during the day, i noticed how we do not value what we have, how every single household have their security lights on all day, i can imagine what is going on inside the house. This is a country that is suffering from lack of power and yet there is the wastage. This is the same in all fields.
    The last point I would like to draw people attention is the big lobby by politicians and businessmen to stop any power development in Africa espicially in Country like Nigeria which had commisioned and paid in full for two new power stations but no foundation. Internationial element is also involved(China but not only).I am talking about big business with Standby generator and solar pannel of late. These group of people will always try and block any trend towards any stability in this sector. The same thing Obama faced when you talk about health bill in USA.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yes, Africa can sort out its electricity problems if the leaders can look inwards,dig out the roots of the power problems, and proffer solutions to get it fixed.
    The continent like its European counterparts has numerous educated and talented indviduals with vast technological knowledge in areas of power generation and if these experienced people can be brought together to pool their ideas together, the continent would be better for it.
    There continent is endowed with several untapped mineral resources but the continent is yet to boast of leaders with the interest of the subjects at heart. Most of the leaders are still having the syndrome of get rich quick attitude; No fearof God in them; thinking they will leave forever on earth , hence acquiring all the wealth and riches they could while on earth.
    Besides , the continent is endowed with several raw materials for alternative power generation but yet to have leaders with the proper initiative to harness these resources.
    I believe if leaders with the right frame of mind and initiaive can pool all the expertise required to appropriately harness the available raw materials for generation of electricity, no other continent in the world can compete with it.
    Moreover,availability of constant electricity has a multiplier effect that could always contribute positively to all other developmental factors.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Africa has both the financial and natural potential ie dams, sunlight etc to solve its electricity problems, we also have competent engineers that can handle all these projects, Our problem is lack of vision by our leaders.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's very difficult for Africans to solve their electricity problems because the leaders are not well informed about the important of electricity.Here in Cameroon those working at the electricity company do not have an idea of what a power cut may mean for the people and their business.To me those working at the power station should be educated about the important of electricity and what a power cut will do for the economy.Our leaders don't even used the computer.How will they care,they have all alternative means of having lights which is all they need.We that feed only when there is energy know and sometimes very frustrated about the energy problem in African.God help us

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Electricity challenge is a developing world nightmare and not only Africa as suggested. But why is the poblem persistent so may years after African countries achieved independence?
    There are several reasons to attribute to this. One, the development and management of the systems has not been efficient; the African countries' investment priorities may not have captured importance of infrastructure towards overall development; assumed needs has focused in cities; and funding limitations. Second challenge to the infrastructure development is Brentwood Institutions' Structural Adjustment Programs that were intended to have African countries divest out of revenue generating income venture and to cut down public employment. It is a terrible policy direction that does not work in developed world either. So, it my humble submission that developing nations walk out of the IMF control and seek alternative funding sources that do not renegade development.

  • Comment number 23.

    To me, Africa is like a rich man lost in the wilderness, with the sole on his shoes falling apart, his one time Armani suit now in shreds, his briefcase once full with corrupt money now empty, a face full of grey bushy beard, overcome with anguish and desperation, frantically prawling through, a complete victim of ignorance. One of my most admired philosophers once said that "In the abondance of water, the fool is thirsty", and so it is with Africa. Now, the sun shines everyday in Africa, there has for a reasonable period of time now, been a technology that converts energy from the sun into electricity known as "solar energy", in addition to that, electricity can also be generated from wind and oceanic waves, all of which is in abundance in Africa; now what in God's name is the problem with these people?. Nature has created a golden cage for the humming bird, the onus is on the bird to make it more gold than a cage.

  • Comment number 24.

    Too often many governments around the globe are not doing enough to help the people cope up with the rising costs of electricity, or to make sure that such goods are available to all at affordable pricing. Too many times our governments hide behind the recession to justify the price hikes or lack of progress in providing this basic need to the masses, thus causing more suffering than is necessary...

  • Comment number 25.

    In African standard, i am far optimist that there will not be blackout in Ethiopia. This is considering the fact that electricity and TV sets are luxury and one of the hydroelectric power plant just kicked in last month. But the early matches of the cap coincides with the driest dekade and that might affect some subscribers.


  • Comment number 26.

    Africa to me is like a man lost in the wilderness, with the sole of his shoes full of holes and dangling off, his one time well adorned suit reduced to rags, his leather brief case once full with corrupt cash, now empty and unstrapped, his face full of anguish and desperation, covered with an unkempt grey bushy beard, saturated with dust and decay. Today's technology has produced various forms of energy sources, alternatives to oil generated electrical power stations, most of which have failed miserably, as a dependable source of energy. Solar, wind, oceanic waves, as sources of energy, are producing electricity in societies all across the globe, and Africa needs to start tapping into its resources more meaningfully in modern ways, and not just exist as a bastion of raw materials. Nature has provided the humming bird a golden cage, the onus is on the bird to make it more gold than cage.

  • Comment number 27.

    Yes, on the day appointments are made on the basis of merit.

  • Comment number 28.

    The problem of electricity is as a result of poor management.We have the resources and everything to generate electricity but we need committed experts to handle the operations.


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