Location: Montréal, Canada
The African Development Bank (AfDB) will explain the challenges facing the African energy sector to a wide audience at the World Energy Congress (WEC), scheduled to take place in Montréal, Canada, 12-16 September 2010.
"Increasing energy access is a priority for Africa", says Hela Cheikhrouhou, the AfDB's Director for Energy, Climate Change and Sustainable Development. She said large segments of the continent's people, especially in Sub-Sahara Africa and in the rural areas of middle-income countries, live in conditions of acute 'energy poverty'.
Africa's energy production is about 9.5% of the world's total output, including 12.1% of the world's crude oil production; 6.6% of natural gas output; 4.7% of the world's hard coal; and 3.1% of hydro-electric power.
The continent's one billion inhabitants consume the least amount of energy per capita. Endemic low per-capita energy consumption is both a cause and consequence of Africa's prolonged poor socio-economic performance since the first oil shock in the early 1970s, particularly in oil-importing Sub-Sahara African countries.
"Long-term planning, taking into account economic, social and environmental costs would increasingly shift the balance in favor of a low-carbon path to development and poverty reduction, Ms. Cheikhrouhou explained. "As one of the region most vulnerable to global warming, Africa has a vested interest in rendering effective support for global mitigation efforts," she stressed.
African countries are in effect facing the threats posed by climate change. They have witnessed extreme weather conditions - historic hot spells, droughts, torrential rains, cyclones, floods, extreme fluctuations of river flow and lake water levels. Climate change has emerged as an important challenge facing Africa in the 21st century.
The continent has however a number of options for clean energy development with enormous potential. African countries, especially south of the Sahara, need to make greater use of their huge largely untapped renewable energy potential - especially hydro-power, geothermal energy, solar and wind power, and more efficient utilization of biomass.
"African countries' energy development strategy geared to the goal of access-for-all should be anchored on three pillars: maximizing clean energy options; emphasizing energy efficiency; and working with developed countries and development institutions to quickly and effectively channel a more substantial share of Climate Financing", says Ms Cheikhrouhou.
The World Energy Council organizes a world congress every three years. The upcoming congress, the premier international multi-energy forum with exhibitors with field experience, is an opportunity for participants to better understand energy issues and solutions from a global perspective. It brings together more than 3,500 top world leaders in the energy sector, coming from industry, governments, and international organizations, as well as the media, universities and energy industry associations.