15 July 2016, Lagos — International Energy Agency, IEA, has said that China now accounts for 30 percent of Africa’s energy growth, with more than 200 Greenfield power projects contracted to Chinese companies in the last five years, even as it has completed not less than three projects in Nigeria.
IEA, in its July 2016 publication, titled “Boosting the Power Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa: China’s Involvement” stated that project investments are estimated at about $13 billion between 2010 and 2015 from China, which were financed largely through public lending from China.
According to the report, with over 635 million people living without electricity, access to electricity is still a great challenge to sub-Saharan Africa. The power sector needs to be well funded, technologies, and capacity building and significant investment are also needed to support the development of the sector.
The report also stated that Chinese contractors have built or are contracted to build 17 Gigawatts of generation capacity in sub-Saharan Africa from 2010 to 2020, equivalent to 10 percent of existing installed capacity in sub-Saharan Africa, or to Finland’s total installed capacity.
In West Africa, most Chinese-built capacity is in gas-fired power plants, especially in Nigeria which has enormous natural gas resources. In Nigeria alone, Chinese companies have completed three projects totaling 1.5 GW, with some advanced technologies provided by Western original equipment manufacturers, OEMs, such as General Electric, GE. Executive Director International Energy Agency, Dr. Fatih Birol, said that, at present, various global initiatives promote increased prosperity and economic development in Africa by improving electricity security.
“The Power Africa initiative by the United States, the Africa-EU Millennium Development Goals initiative, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, TICAD, process by Japan, the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL) by the United Nations, and the India-Africa Forum Summit, IAFS, are good examples of efforts by the global community to support and promote economic growth in Africa.
“The active role of Chinese companies in Africa’s power sector is notable, both in terms of magnitude and impact on new electricity capacity additions, mostly coming from renewable energy, including large hydroelectric plants,” he stated. Faith also said that “Enhancing energy access in Africa was also one of the G20 initiatives under the Turkish presidency in 2015, and it is currently being discussed as an important topic under China’s 2016 G20 presidency.
“Given Africa’s rich energy resources, the potential is huge. Greater global co-operation can deliver benefits for all, ultimately promoting increased energy access and economic growth. In the end, this can only succeed if addressed in a positive way by leaders of African countries. He explained that African energy, in particular, access to clean energy, has been a key topic of analysis for the IEA for close to two decades now.
Under its open doors policy, the Agency will continue to support expanded energy access and clean energy technology development in Africa. On his part, the Deputy Executive Director of the IEA, Paul Simons, said that African countries have relied heavily on the support of China for expansion of their electricity systems, to enable growth and improve living standards.
“Greenfield power projects contracted to Chinese companies have become widespread in the region, with more than half of all projects based on renewable energy, mainly hydropower. “Training of local technicians is essential to maintain efficiency and performance of newly built plants,” he stated.
*Prince Okafor – Vanguard