Promoting sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa is a
challenge for which there are no easy solutions. The region still strives to
satisfy many of its fundamental needs, and the task of extending even the most
basic services to all members of society is daunting in the face of the highest
population growth rates in the world. Energy services might, at first sight,
appear to be of limited concern among so many other pressing priorities.
However, Chapter 1 has illustrated how a well-conceived and effectively
implemented energy policy can both help to direct development down a sustainable
path and, at the same time, provide an integrated tool capable of addressing a
broad range of development goals. For these reasons, the development of
sustainable energy systems in Sub-Saharan Africa could be of crucial value to
the region as a whole, to national interests, and to individual inhabitants.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is well endowed with diverse
nonrenewable and renewable energy resources (see p.23, Energy in Africa Today).
These resources remain under-exploited, primarily because most countries lack
both the capital resources and the favourable political and economic environment
sought by private investors. SSAs energy resources are also distributed
unevenly across 48 nations, and so the exploitation of these resources will rely
increasingly on regional cooperation and cross-border trade. This situation is
most evident for hydroelectricity, where many borders and thousands of
kilometres separate regions with large untapped potential (e.g. the Congo basin)
from major demand centres. It is also true for natural gas - the Kudu field in
Namibia and Pande in Mozambique are both a long way from the potential markets
in South Africa - and to some extent for biomass and wind resources (which are
most abundant in some remote coastal and island locations). While there is
significant electricity trade in Southern Africa, and growing trade in natural
gas in West/Central Africa, the economic potential of further international
cooperation and infrastructure investment is enormous (see p.37, Regional Trade
"The regions abundant resources remain under-exploited
primarily because most countries lack both the capital resources and the
favourable political and economic environment sought by private investors."