March 19, 2021
Gyude Moore, former Liberian Minister of Public Works, has published an superbly perceptive article on what the “green-decarbonization” of energy means for Africa: Economic growth in Africa will not be achieved by a ban on fossil fuels. (See excerpts below)
Many years ago, I reached the same conclusions as Mr. Moore; without abundant affordable energy, Africa will not develop, it will not eliminate poverty. African nations need energy, lots of energy, at least 1,000 gigawatts more energy to advance their agricultural sector and industrialize their economies. Shutting down existing fossil fueled energy or limiting future energy production to “green energy” will not only retard economic growth; it will increase poverty and kill Africans. If I may be granted a poetic license, I would say, a green energy policy for Africa will lead to a black death.
Let me interpolate my perspective on so called green energy, which goes beyond Mr. Moore’s excellent analysis. I find no convincing evidence that human activity is causing climate change. Rather, it is geological and astronomical cycles pertaining to our Sun and our solar system that is the primary cause of changes in our climate. Just ask yourself, how many ice ages and warming periods has our planet experienced over the last one million years before anthropomorphic activity emerged?
Unfortunately, our culture has adopted a false belief system about the nature of human beings that was revived in the 1960s under the slogan of “limits to growth.” This belief structure advocates the necessity of limiting the number of human beings and reducing human activity, guided by a false conviction that the planet is running out of resources.
This is a warmed over version of the population reduction theory espoused by the wicked Parson Thomas Malthus (1766-1834). Even though the Malthusian dogma proclaims that human population growth will exceed the resources of the planet, has been proven wrong, again, and again, Malthusianism never seems to die.
There are two principal fallacies of this view. First, there are no fixed resources. As humankind discovers new scientific principles of the physical universe, new resources of energy are discovered, such as coal, gas, oil, nuclear, and of course electricity itself. Second, the physical universe, which is a growing organism, is well-ordered to respond to the creative mental powers of the human mind. In scientific terms, both the universe, and the human creative mind, intrinsically cooperate in anti-entropic growth, i.e., continual expanding development. As the great philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz wrote, there is a pre-established harmony of causality between the mind and physical substance. When we humans exercise our creative potential, we are in harmony with universe, not antithetical to its environment.
Sadly, for civilization, western culture, has adopted a prejudicial view of the human race itself, viewing it as an inherently evil monster wantonly destroying the environment. The folly of the “New Green Deal” as it is called, will hurt the United States, Europe, and the entirety of the advanced sector. However, for African nations and other developing nations, it will have deadly effects sooner.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is needed to come into operation post-haste for Africa to progress. The GERD has the capacity to generate over 6,000 megawatts of electricity, which could be added to the East African grid in the coming two to three years . There are other hydro-electric dams being constructed in Africa. There should be no holding back on constructing as many new power plants of all types, as quickly as possible to expand African’s access to electricity. Over 600 million Africans have no access to their nation’s electrical grid. Plus, for African nations to build their manufacturing sectors, industrial consumption of electricity will have to dramatically increase. Nuclear energy, presently fission, and in the future fusion, is the most efficient source of power for Africa. Almost one third of the continent’s nations are presently involved in various stages of acquiring nuclear energy plants. African nations should give the highest priority to securing production of nuclear energy.
(See link below for presentation of nuclear solution)
Excerpts from Gyude Moore:
“Africa has many of the poorest people in the world. For most African countries, the priority is economic growth — first in agriculture, where much of the population still works, and then in industry and services. Worries of an increased carbon footprint generated from economic growth are second to worries that growth may not happen at all…
“But people in poverty don’t just need to power a single lightbulb at home; they need abundant, affordable energy at work too. Energy is essential to creating productive agriculture systems, as well as to the expansion of economic opportunity in cities, factories, and modern industries. African countries need energy to grow, and to eliminate poverty — and they can’t do it with small-scale green power projects alone.
“Africa’s first priority is to grow more food. Composting and recycling can only go so far — farmers need synthetic fertilizer to raise yields, and natural gas is the most efficient energy source for fertilizer production…
“Poor farmers in Africa need much better access to irrigation… Large scale, energy-intensive water control projects that rely on fossil fuels must be in the mix — just as they are in wealthy countries.
Domestic food supply chains provide the vast majority of food across Sub-Saharan Africa, but they’re hampered by poor roads and the unreliable fuel supplies. Construction of much-needed roads requires energy and the transportation sector as a whole remains almost entirely dependent on oil and gas.
“Beyond agriculture, a continuous supply of power from the grid is critical for expanding factory production. Countries like Ethiopia, which have ambitions to become manufacturing powerhouses, are increasingly looking to China for the construction and operation of large-scale power projects that will provide reliable electricity. Off-grid technologies are useful for extending basic energy services but cannot power the industrial activity needed to create millions of jobs and drive economic diversification. There is no world in which Africa can meet its energy needs with carbon-neutral power plants and off-grid solutions…
“The continent’s needs are too great to be met solely with current energy technologies…” (all emphasis is added)
Read: Economic growth in Africa will not be achieved by a ban on fossil fuels.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com