Potential Energy: Tapping Africa’s Renewable Resources
23 March 2012
Yale Global online - March 19, 2012
In the developed world, fossil fuels like oil have become synonymous with economic growth. The African continent, however, tells a different tale. The cost of importing oil has led to massive debt in many African countries. Countries like Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia spend increasing portions of their GDP to maintain the functions of transportation and industry. In some countries, 90 percent of energy comes from wood fuel, and individual households across the continent increasingly cannot afford energy for basic needs like cooking – a phenomenon labeled “energy poverty” by Lord Aikins Adusei in Think Africa Press. Energy disruptions or shortages prevent businesses from growing and erode attempts to improve infrastructure. Growing demand in Asia increases prices, and current reliance on fossil fuels in Europe, the US, Japan, China, and India is unsustainable for the long-term. Yet Africa’s vast potential of renewable energy, including hydropower, has yet to be exploited. Adusei argues that renewable energy is key to improving the energy economy on the African continent.