Access to Power

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Pages: 40— By: Audrey Truschke. Pages: 65— By: Michael Talbot. Pages: — By: Mark Hengerer. By: Jonathan Spangler. By: Ronald G Asch. By: Fabian Persson.

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By: Christina Antenhofer. By: Steven Thiry. Biographical Note Dries Raeymaekers, Ph. He has published on Habsburg dynastic politics, including a monograph on the Habsburg Court of Brussels in the early seventeenth century. The aim is to improve its operating performance by offering support specifically to develop the skills of its agents, restore its financial balance, reinforce its electrical transmission grid, and improve its framework of governance.

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Figure of the week: Electricity access in Africa

Burkina Faso. Central African Republic. Democratic Republic of the Congo. Dominican Republic. Many governments are now intensifying their efforts to tackle the numerous regulatory and political barriers that are holding back investments in domestic energy supply. However, inadequate energy infrastructure risks putting a brake on urgently needed improvements in living standards. Although investment in new energy supply is on the rise, two out of every three dollars put into the sub-Saharan energy sector since have been committed to the development of resources for export.

Most of the sub-Saharan countries still host an environment where the power sector is controlled by the state. In such a situation, there is little incentive to advance the grid as financial penalties for poor performance are non-existent. The lack of commitment to advance the electricity sector restructuring is predominant and is one of the main reasons that prevents the power sector to reach more users. Political instability, conflict and institutional weakness, which permeate a large number of sub-Saharan African countries, also make any reform or investment in the sector risky.

Figure 2 — Number of people without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, However, even a state-controlled power sector can be efficient. Setting managerial performance incentives, with targets based on well-designed performance benchmarking, is central to improving the performance of state-owned and municipal utilities. These institutions have an important role in society when working to ensure electricity access for low-income citizens. For this to be achieved, transparent and realistic business plans are needed in addition to input from civil society.

Many countries have introduced some form of competition, reducing the prevalence of fully monopolised, vertically integrated power sectors. However, in most cases the reforms only helped open the generation subsector to independent power producers IPPs , without much progress in improving the performance of the existing integrated utilities.

Moreover, even where IPPs can enter on paper, other barriers, such as lack of assured access to transmission facilities, limit their scale and impact. Engaging the private sector is important for advancing electricity access in developing countries, where the public sector lacks sufficient resources to undertake costly investments in electricity generation and transmission, and international donor sources are very limited. Sino-African relations have spanned through a range of economic fronts, from banking to infrastructure and energy. In power transmission and distribution, Chinese companies are active in the entire power-grid chain, from cross-border transmission lines like between Ethiopia and Kenya, to local urban and rural distribution networks, such as in Angola or Equatorial Guinea.

Power generation projects led by Chinese companies in sub-Saharan Africa range from coal to renewable energy. One area that has seen growing investments from Chinese companies is solar power generation.

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China is a lead supplier of photovoltaic PV panels for solar projects in Africa. Jinko Solar, the largest manufacturer of solar PV panels in the world, has been active in the continent since when it opened a PV panel factory in Cape Town, South Africa, with an annual capacity of MW. More active in the region is JA Solar, another Chinese major solar technology company. Located in the Northern Cape province, South Africa, the farm will be connected to the grid and will start producing in The company has also supplied 6. ZTE completed the feasibility study for the project in April Launched in August , the initiative aims to boost the clean energy cooperation between China and Africa, helping establishing power supplies and transmission systems in Africa through public-private partnership PPP projects, focused on renewable energy options.

Members of the alliance include finance institutions, smart-grid providers and manufacturers in the renewable energy sub-sector.


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Initially, the alliance will start with a few pilot projects before expanding its influence across Africa. Pilot projects would include helping build micro-grids in some African households and villages, in combination with large-scale power construction.

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy

Technical innovations, especially in solar power, provide the possibility for faster progress in electricity supply by complementing grid expansion with mini-grids and home-scale systems. Off-grid electricity sources historically have consisted of small diesel-powered generators used to compensate for unreliable grid supplies, and to provide electricity for households and businesses not connected to the grid who can afford them.

All this has undergone considerable change over the past decade or so. During that time, there has been growing interest in solar-charged lanterns and small-scale PV home systems that can provide lighting, access to mass media, and battery charging to households in rural areas. This interest has been spurred by technological advances that have made mini-grids using solar power significantly cheaper than it used to be at the beginning of the decade.

Mini-grids are a very interesting possibility for scaling up electricity availability in areas where grid extension is costly. It also provides a faster way for individuals to access electricity rather than waiting for larger power infrastructure projects to reach their homes. Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Rwanda are some of the countries that have invested more broadly in mini-grids, undertaking regulatory reforms to lower barriers to investment. Substantial cost reductions from rapid technological improvements from innovations in home-scale solar power production provide the opportunity to improve the quality of life of people without access to electricity in more lightly populated rural and remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

However, while home systems can provide more and better lighting and other basic household conveniences, they cannot do that much to increase incomes and employment and reduce poverty in those areas, given the limited quantities of electricity they provide compared to the electricity needed for most productive uses. The project will take six years for completion and will be welcomed by the over 75 million people currently living without electricity in Nigeria.


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Chinese companies are also carrying out hydroelectric power generation projects in countries such as the Ivory Coast, Uganda, Zimbabwe and DR Congo.