Energy Poverty Is Killing Africans-Renewables Are Insufficient

Access to electricity for sub-Saharan nations is abysmal. A leading factor in the prevalence of poverty and hunger. (Courtesy of researchgate.net)

W. Gyude Moore published a useful article on the vital need for African nations to produce more energy: On the question of Africa’s Energy Poverty

However, I extend the implications of his analysis of energy poverty to its full impact on the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans. To wit: energy poverty is the leading cause of preventable deaths in Africa. Western political-financial elites are using their pseudo concern to “save the world” from climate change, to prevent African nations from producing vital energy from their abundant natural resources of hydrocarbons. In effect, attempting to deny nations suffering from a dearth of electricity, the right to develop their own energy sources sufficient to industrialize their economies. Hunger and poverty will not be eliminated on the African continent without nation-wide grids providing abundant and accessible electrical power.

Renewables are not capable of powering an industrialized economy. Their low energy flux density, the concentration of heat-power needed to transform minerals, is inadequate. Intense levels of heat and energy are required to convert ores into working metals. Nuclear power is orders of magnitude superior to other forms of energy in satisfying these requirements. Oil, gas, and hydro are energy sources that can be used in transition to nuclear energy. Yet, African nations are given diktats to not develop their sovereign resources and instead rely on inferior energy sources, displaying their disdain for their sovereignty and the welfare of their citizens. Thus, ensuring that African nations will never be able to become manufacturing based industrialized economies capable of eradicating poverty and hunger. One can make the argument that denying African nations this required energy capacity is a new form of colonialism, to keep them undeveloped. It is the effect, if not the intent.

Excerpts from Moore’s article: In Resolving Africa’s Energy Poverty – ALL Options Remain on the Table

Africa’s energy poverty is now a national security crisis. The region’s large and growing population places relentless pressure on small and dwindling resources, exacerbating the crisis of diminished state capacity. The specter of social and political disruption haunts regional stability, from coastal West Africa to the Great Lakes. Africa’s poverty translates into weak economic resilience and heightened vulnerability to shocks – internal and external. The recent spate of global crises has only worsened the problem. After decades of improvement, the World Bank reports that inequality is rising – that the global poor bore the brunt of the economic scarring of the pandemic, with incomes falling in the poorest countries more than they did in rich countries. “As a result, the income losses of the world’s poorest were twice as high as the world’s richest, and global inequality rose for the first time in decades.” These losses are most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa where “incomes are falling further behind the rest of the world.”  

Nothing aggravates this condition more than the continent’s persistent energy poverty. It is thus a positive sign when at this year’s IMF/World Bank Spring meetings, the World Bank and the African Development bank agreed to invest in providing electricity to 300 million Africans by 2030. But the announcement raises a lot of questions, including Todd Moss’s: “What will the Bank do differently?” If the idea is to double down on renewables alone, this only accentuates the glaring divergence between what Africa needs and the “solution” the Bank is offering. In times of existential crises, no options are left off the table. Unless Africa increases the diversity and complexity of its exports, its poverty will persist…

Moore makes the decisive point below that even when African nations establish policies to process their own resources, to ban the export of raw resources: they don’t have the energy for smelting, transforming the ore..

No Balanced Energy mix, No Industrialization

Africa’s export diversification is inextricably tied to its infrastructure – mainly power – endowment. Namibia, Zimbabwe, the DRC and others have all passed laws banning the export of unprocessed minerals. The legitimate attempts by these governments to ensure that their minerals are extracted and processed “in a way that helps [them] realize the full economic benefits of their resources’, should be applauded.”

But the viability of these bans remains contested, and these efforts are very likely to stall, since insufficient smelting capacity has led to repeated issuance of waivers for similar bans in the DRC.

About 80% of global energy consumption is tied to transport and heating (residential and industrial). This focus here is industrial heating (100 to 2000 C). The absence of adequate power supply to smelt ores in a commercially viable way has condemned the continent’s commodity exporters to ship their raw ore to China or India. South Africa, the continent’s most complex commodity exporting economy exports its chromite ore to China for processing into ferrochrome, which is used to manufacture corrosion, acid and heat-resistant steel.

Or take aluminum – the metal that is produced from bauxite. Guinea has the world’s largest bauxite reserves at over 7 billion metric tons. However, aluminum making is one of the most energy-intensive processes in the world. “Only paper, gasoline, steel, and ethylene manufacturing consume more total energy in the United States than aluminum. Aluminum production is the largest consumer of energy on a per-weight basis and is the largest electric energy consumer of all manufactured products.”[xv] In Guinea and Sierra Leone, converting raw bauxite into intermediate metals will require prodigious amounts of installed and dispatchable power. Renewables have struggled to be cost competitive with burning fossil fuels to smelt ores. Even the most basic levels of beneficiation (removing impurities and improving the grade of the ore) often require electricity endowment that many commodity exporters lack. Unless Africa is able to increase the availability of cost-competitive energy at a scale, adding value to its mineral exports will remain a pipe drain. If the average Ethiopian continues to consume a mere 79.25 kWh per year, Ethiopia will struggle to match Bangladesh (497 kWh per year) in apparel manufacturing. If the average Nigeria consumes only about 150 kwH per year, Nigerian firms will struggle to compete with their Vietnamese counterparts  (2450 KwH per year)

Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be a game changer for East Africa; generating 5,150 megawatts of electricity

Fossil Fuels (Including Coal)  and the Existential Question:

While Europe, China and India pursue increasing coal as an energy source, African nations are intentionally denied lending for development of coal powered plants, even though coal is abundant on the continent.

At this year’s Spring Meetings,  “The Big Shift Global”, a global movement against fossil fuels, protested against the Bank’s financing fossil fuels. Their best intentions notwithstanding, this activism condemns Africa and Africans to indigence, since the countries adding the most fossil fuel capacity do not borrow from the World Bank. This earnest, but misguided, activism simply provides a convenient cover for rich countries’ World Bank executive directors who want to push the bank away from financing natural gas in Africa.

Increasing Africa’s energy per capita consumption is an existential question – from keeping South Sudanese children alive in extreme heat to earning more from African exports. African governments ought to understand that outsourcing existential questions to outsiders whose intentions are, at best, ambivalent is a dereliction of duty to their people.

When coal-powered electricity is rising in prominence in the world’s largest industrial countries, it is unreasonable to expect Africans to “save the world”, by sacrificing their poverty reduction and industrialization goals on the unrealistic “hope” of an all-renewable energy mix. Every form of energy generation must remain on the table. Where viable, nuclear energy ought to be pursued too – whether the partner of choice is China or Russia, especially since Rosatom and the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) have approved a plan for cooperation. China has made progress on small modular reactors; this option and all others must remain on the table...

Both the World Bank and some private capital are hesitant to extend financing for new fossil fuel. Because this is a national security imperative, African governments should be prepared to make hard choices about using domestic resources, making cuts to spending elsewhere to fund these plants.

For economies where coal power plants are viable, governments must make demonstrable efforts – setting aside land, conducting feasibility studies, and mapping the coal value chain for these plants. For countries where the option is natural gas – the same processes should be set in motion.

Read my earlier posts below:

South Africa Energy Minister Rejects Western Dictates & Hypocrisy Against Africa’s Use of Energy Resources

“Electricity is the lifeblood of a nation” Nuclear Energy Can Be A Solution To The Continent’s Dearth of Electricity

GERD: Utilizing the Blue Nile to Create Energy for Development in Ethiopia & The Horn of Africa

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 a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com that has hundreds of articles for you to review.

“Electricity is the lifeblood of a nation” Nuclear Energy Can Be A Solution To The Continent’s Dearth of Electricity

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, developed in South Africa, can be a solution to Africa’s lack of energy (Courtesy of the International Atomic Energy Agency)

Dr Kelvin Kemm, a South African nuclear physicist, deleivers a cogent argument for nuclear energy in Africa, in his presentation below, “A Reliable Electricty Supply.,” (Provided by PD Lawton, creator of the blog: africanagenda.net)

Africa Needs Electrcity

There is no more urgent task for the nations of Africa than expanding the construction of energy plants to generate a massive increase in electricity for distribution by their national electrical grids.

W. Gyude Moore, who formerly served as Liberia’s Minister for Public Works, recently wrote:  

The International Energy Agency now estimates that Asia is set to use 50% of global electricity by 2025. China, with its 1.4 billion people, who account for a majority of that. Although Africa has a comparable population to China, its 54 countries will use just 3% of global electricity. That disparity is an eloquent and concise a treatise on Africa’s poverty as there can be…By 2030 the continent is set to host 84% of the world’s extreme poor. Without access to cheap and reliable electricity as well as expensive road [and railroad] systems, Africa’s terms of trade will not improve, and its poverty will remain entrenched.

The devastating impact on the absence of electricity for African nations was also dramatically highlighted by the well-known African philanthropist, Mo Ibrahim. In a February 9th interview on Straight Talk, he explained without exaggeration, the consequential stark reality of the deficit of electricity for African nations. He said:

600 million African people are without access to electricity. Without access to electricity, you don’t have access to life. You don’t have education. You don’t have health. You don’t have businesses. You have nothing!

Gyude Moore and Mo Ibrahim, understand, as every rational human being should; without electricity, economies and nations can’t function. I will go further: people are dying in African nations today due to the catastrophic deficit in electrical generation. There is no more vital issue to be addressed by African leaders and friends of Africa around the world, than reversing the dire shortage of electrical  power throughout African continent.

African Solutions For African Problems

Perhaps surprising to many Africans and Westerners alike, nuclear energy is another example of the potential of African nations to provide solutions for African problems.

Dr. Kemm points out that South Africa was a leader in pioneering the development of a Small Nuclear Reactor-SMR. South Africa designed the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor-PBMR mnany years ago, a SMR that  could have been utilized throughout Africa to deliver desperately needed energy, if the program had continued.

Quoting Dr. Kemm:

So, in 1993 a decision was made to start investigating the potential in developing a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) to be placed in South African areas in which there were no major supplies of water. South Africa has minimal spare inland water.

So South Africa became the first country in the world to start designing a commercial SMR. The project grew to a significant size, with a total workforce of some 2,000 people, and by 2008 the reactor was ready to be built. The pressure vessel was ordered, and it arrived in South Africa…

African countries and others around the world became interested in nuclear power as they realised the importance of solutions which really work for African conditions, or for the local conditions of diverse countries.  A few African leaders have made powerful public statements about their intention to take their countries down a nuclear path. That is totally reasonable, by using Small Modular Reactors which do not need large scale water cooling.

African countries can also easily form a collaborative ‘club’ to link to each other with daily operations, training, and regulatory oversight, amongst other functions. Such an approach will lower costs further and also induce a spirit of cooperation which will be beneficial to all.

Investors need to have the confidence in an advanced energy solution development coming from Africa. Some established mindsets need to change. The SMR from South Africa is an investment opportunity waiting for people with vision, and some courage, and who also have some self-confidence, and a belief in abundant and reliable green power for the future.

To elimiate hunger in Africa. To industrialize African economies. To lift hundreds of millions of Africans out of poverty. Africa must have nuclear energy as its power source.

Source: africanagenda.net/a-reliable-electricity-supply-six-months-and-half-a-dozen-years

Read my earlier posts below:

A Nuclear Energy Economic Platform Is The Future for Africa

Nuclear Energy Will Create Jobs and Raise Skill Levels in Africa

South Africa: A Leader on the Continent for Nuclear Energy

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 a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

South Africa Energy Minister Rejects Western Dictates & Hypocrisy Against Africa’s Use of Energy Resources

Fossil fuels kill, but hunger kills faster, Mantashe tells conference

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe

The paucity of energy in sub-Saharan Africa is killing Africans every day. South Africa Energy Minister Mantashe has continually rejected demands by Western nations and their political-financial institutions for African nations not to exploit their own natural resources. To improve the living conditions of their citizens, African nations must industrialize their economies, which necessitates exploiting every resource available. Not only are these dictates an infringement on the sovereignty of African nations, but those in the West, who are trying to prevent Africa’s energy utilization, are contributing to poverty, hunger, and loss of life.

Reported on October 4, from news24.com

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe says the African continent should not be dictated to when it comes to the pace of its energy transition. This as a R150 billion funding deal from rich countries to help fund South Africa’s transition from coal hangs in the balance.

In an address to the 2022 Africa Oil Week in Cape Town on Tuesday, Mantashe said the war in Ukraine has hit developing economies with high energy costs, along with increasing food prices and interest rates.

He said the climate change question “sits uncomfortably with energy poverty”, adding that the pressure on African economies to decarbonize quickly will expose it to the risk that its people will not have access to reliable and affordable energy if handled with haste.

“Africa must determine its pathway from high carbon emissions to low carbon emissions. It must take into account our developmental needs, & must not be dictated to by anybody else who is at a different level of development.”

“I see the protests outside this venue that said ‘fossil fuels a killer’, but I can tell you that hunger kills faster”.

“We have seen the increase of coal purchasing from us to EU growing eightfold, 780%. As they take our coal, they at the same time tell us to move out of it quickly. That is a contradiction that Africa must look at,” he said.

Read entire article here from news24.com

Originally posted below by africanagenda.net

Read below earlier posts from my website on this subject:

South Africa and China Articulate Principles for Global Development at United Nations

Nigerian VP: Osinbajo “Climate Justice Must Include Ending Energy Poverty” Especially for Sub-Saharan Africa

African Nations Desperately Need Energy for Economic Growth

South African Activist Campaigns for Nuclear Energy For Africa: Essential for Industrialization

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 a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

African Nations Desperately Need Energy for Economic Growth

June 7,2022

My colleague, PD Lawton, creator of: africanagenda.net, has authored an excellent article on the energy needs of Africa, and South Africa in particular, published by ESI-Africa-(see above). She makes an excellent case for African nations to utilize all forms of energy as a transition to developing a nuclear powered industrialized economy.

As I shall be discussing in future articles, the objective of the dictates of the now “all-popular” green ideology is to prevent Africa nations from exploiting their natural hydro-carbon resources. The intention is to obstruct the industrialization of African. Without a platform of energy dense manufacturing and agricultural industries, African economies will not grow, thus
allowing the conditions for poverty, hunger, and death to continue.

As a physical economist, I know that by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton, we can eliminate abject poverty and starvation. This will require abundant supplies of cheap, accessible energy. Western nations grew their economies through the consumption of gas, coal, and oil, much of it extracted from the African continent. Who gave the Western governments and financial institutions the authority, the right to disallow Africans from exploiting their own energy resources for their own people? African  nations have the sovereign right and obligation to provide for the general welfare of their citizens, free from external decrees.

Excerpts from Lawton’s’ article:

“Electricity means life is better. And 80% of that better life in South Africa is from coal. So, when Europeans impose green energy policies on Africa, they do it with total ignorance of the Sleeping Giant. And by their total ignorance of condemning coal and nuclear energy, they condemn 1,4 billion people to a future of poverty when the majority of those 1,4 billion people do not use so much as one light bulb’s worth of electricity.

“Every human being wants to breathe clean air and drink pure water. Most human beings want to protect the natural kingdom which is our God-given role. No one wants to live in creativity-crippling, futureless poverty. Only creative human innovation can bring solutions.

“Nuclear power technology fulfils all the requirements of clean energy. And until nuclear energy can power African cities and industries, let fossil fuels, hydro, gas, solar and wind reduce sub-Saharan Africa’s energy deficit. Africans are tired of living in the dark and they are tired of Eurocentric energy policies.”

Read the entire article: Putting coal into the African perspective

Read my earlier posts:

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 0blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

Mozambique is Obligated to Exploit Its Resources For the Development of Its Economy

May 3, 2022

Mozambique joins other African nations that are putting the needs of their people ahead of the dictates from Western governments and financial institutions. African nations understand that unless energy poverty is eliminated there will be not be sufficient economic growth to end poverty and hunger. Ratner than allowing Africans to live in abject poverty and suffer unnecessary deaths, more African nations are insisting they have the right, nay obligation to use their sovereign natural resources to produce vitally needed energy. They are correct in this policy, which I support.

From slavery, through colonialism, and following independence, African nations have been denied what Kwame Nkrumah, and Cheikh Anta-Diop knew was essential for their sovereignty: the right to have industrialized economies.

Without energy dense, and infrastructure dense economies, to include mechanized farming, and robust manufacturing sectors, large portions of African nations will be forced to exist in miserable living conditions, which will lead to higher death rates.

It is criminal to prohibit African nations from using their own natural resources for the development of their economies, without which, hundreds of millions of their citizens will remain in wretched poverty. (Lawrence Freeman, April 29, 2022)

Read my earlier post: Nigerian VP: Osinbajo “Climate Justice Must Include Ending Energy Poverty” Especially for Sub-Saharan Africa

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. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

South Africa: A Leader on the Continent for Nuclear Energy

Mr. Kelvin Kemm, in this in-depth interview, excerpted below, discusses the realm of energy choices for South Africa as well for other African nations. More are considering nuclear energy as a safe and reliable power source for their economies. Mr. Kemm also discusses the anti-nuclear lobby and the causes for climate change. I recommend you spend the time to read through the entire interview.

“South Africa Builds on Its Nuclear Success”

Interview With Kelvin Kemm, who is chairman of the board of the government-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, known as NECSA,

Kemm: “The current situation is that nuclear is still on the agenda exactly as it was; it’s unchanged. There’s been somewhat of a delay because of various issues—we have a new President now, as of a couple of months ago, and a new Minister of Energy. But nothing has changed with the plan to add 9,600 MW of nuclear—to the existing total from all sources of 45,000-plus MW of electric power.

“However, the wind and solar people have been making a lot noise and made quite a few inroads, in that they’ve influenced the public thinking a lot. In doing this, they’ve done quite a bit of sabotage of nuclear, in the sense that they spread false stories that nuclear power will kill your children, and that there’s an unsolved waste problem, and that South African workers will not be able to meet exacting nuclear standards.

“In contrast…We say that you’re not going to run electric trains across the country on solar and wind, you’re not going run the gold mines; but we have no objection to solar and wind where they can work—in rural areas and in small applications, dedicated applications, which is in stark contrast to the anti-nuclear people, who condemn anything that has the word “nuclear” associated with it.

“I’d like to branch into something else, that there’s a lot of nuclear technology which is not nuclear power. So while the extreme greens are attacking the nuclear concept, they’re doing a lot of other damage. For example, South Africa is currently the second biggest supplier in the world of nuclear medicine; we’re major suppliers to the United States. In Pretoria we’ve got the only nuclear reactor in the world that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producing nuclear medicine for the world, with deliveries taking place three or four times a day, every day of the year, including weekends and public holidays. We send this nuclear medicine around the world. It is a great life-saver for cancer patients, for example, and in diagnosing other diseases.

“Last year, in 2017, I was invited to speak at the inaugural African Union Economic Platform meeting in Mauritius. One of the things I mentioned in my presentation was nuclear power for other African countries, and I was inundated with reaction.

“Half-a-dozen-plus countries, now, have already spoken to us directly, asking if we can supply nuclear power to them. Now, that is in the form of the pebble-bed modular reactor (PBMR), which South Africa developed a number of years ago. That reactor got to the point where we were ready to start constructing the first prototype, when the government of the day then put the project on ice. They didn’t actually close it down, but they put it into such low gear that it eventually stumbled to an effective standstill.

“Golly, how can you have an African country dependent on rainfall to keep the lights on? You just can’t do that. And numbers of them said they had no coal, oil, or gas.

“They said, what’s next? The anti-nuclear lobby has been going on with their hand-waving and demonstrating, to get solar and wind, but many of them have been very senseless. Hey, wait a minute—you don’t get solar at night. And so hopefully the wind blows. What happens when the wind doesn’t blow? Now, you’ve got nothing. And the
green just say, well, that’s the way Mother Nature designed it: Live with it.

“And so, many African countries have gotten wise about it, saying, wait a minute, we’re about to get suckered here into this thing. And they’ve realized now that the only solution they’ve got is to go for PBMR-type nuclear.  because with nuclear, you can stockpile fuel very easily, for a very long period of time. It’s very easy to keep a year or two, or three, or four of nuclear fuel supply in a couple of bunkers, because the volume is so small; whereas you could never keep two or three years’ worth of coal in a pile around a power station. Here in South Africa, we try to keep a two-week emergency supply of coal at power stations, and even that is a mountain of coal “the size of an Egyptian pyramid.” And they go through that very quickly”

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