Editor’s note: This column is authored byDavid Wojick. Africa has the world’s lowest electrification rate. Its power consumption per capita is just 613 kilowatt-hours per year, compared to 6,500 kWh in Europe and 13,000 in the United States, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina observed in July 2017. That’s 9.4% of EU and 4.7% of US electricity consumption. It’s equivalent to Americans having electricity only 1 hour a day, 8 hours a week, 411 hours per year – at totally unpredictable times, for a few minutes, hours or days at a stretch.It’s actually even worse than that. Excluding significantly electrified South Africa, sub-Sahara Africans consume an almost irrelevant 181 kWh of electricity per capita – 1.4% of the average American’s!
In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 600 million people have no electricity, and over 700 million rely on wood, grass and dung for cooking and heating. The region is home to 16% of the world’s population, and 53% of those without electricity. By 2050, its urban populations could increase by 600 million.
Determined to transform the “dark continent,” the AfDB launched a $12-billion New Deal on Energy in 2017 and a Light Up and Power Africa initiative in July 2018. It frequently emphasized that access to sufficient supplies of reliable, affordable modern energy – including fossil fuels – is critical for the continent’s social and economic development. Without energy, it is impossible to create jobs, increase productivity, reduce inequality, improve people’s health and wellbeing, or end poverty.
The bank’s lofty goal for its energy New Deal is 100% access to electricity in urban areas, and 95% in rural areas, by 2025. In July 2017, Mr. Adesina told the African Union Summit he was excited that “Japan has answered our call” to “adopt a balanced energy mix” that includes “its ultra-super critical clean coal technologies” that remove sulfur, nitrogen oxides and particulates, while greatly reducing CO2 emissions.
In 2018, the bank approved seed money for a Nigerian coal project and geared up to finance a 350MW coal plant in Senegal. It also initiated plans for a $2-billion coal-fired power station in the Kenya’s port city of Lamu, after the IMF, World Bank and other western lenders rebuffed Kenya.
But then Mr. Adesina and the AfDB caved in to carbon colonialist pressure. The bank now says almost nothing about coal or even natural gas. Its new themes include: responding to global concerns about climate change, gradually adopting a “low-carbon and sustainable growth path,” significantly reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and transitioning to “green growth” and “clean renewable energy,”
In September 2019, the bank announced that it planned to begin scrapping coal-fired power plants all across Africa, build “the largest solar zone” in the world, and pull funding for the Lamu power plant. “We’re getting out of coal,” Mr. Adesina said. “Coal is the past, and renewable energy is the future.”
So the AfDB has joined the World Bank, Goldman Sachs and other Multilateral anti-Development Banks in caring more about climate alarmism and avoiding criticism from the likes of Greta, the perpetually aggrieved and angry Grinch of Christmas 2019 – than they do about safeguarding the lives, livelihoods, health and living standards of hundreds of millions of electricity-deprived Africans.
This 180-degree flip-flop is delusional, dysfunctional and disingenuous. For many, it will be lethal.
. . .
Finally, banishing fossil fuels (and nuclear), and focusing on pseudo-renewable energy will mean millions of children and parents will continue to suffer and die needlessly every year from diseases of poverty and energy deprivation. This eco-manslaughter at the hands of climate activists and banks must not continue.
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By investing in Africa’s food markets, governments can win the fight against stunting and improve nutrition across the continent. And with support from institutions like the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), the results would be a win-win situation for all. “What a huge potential the food markets represent. “Feed Africa,” which is one of the Bank’s […]
get out of the way!! UN & advocacy groups keep Africa and Developing Countries where the entire Preindustrial world was in the past
Much of Africa and the developing world are where the whole world was before the advances in technology and knowledge in the 19th and 20th century; the entire world was struggling, poor and sick, so that even the more well-off people had short lifespans due to preventable and curable diseases, poor nutrition and infections. In the developed world, widespread acceptance of germ theory and the development of antibiotics and vaccines only occurred in the early to mid 20th century. Malaria, meaning “bad air,’ was only eradicated in the developed world, in the mid 20th century due to 20 plus years of spraying pesticides for effective mosquito control, development of anti-malaria medicines and window screens. Likewise, malaria in poor countries could be reduced or eradicated by allowing proper pesticide use and providing malaria medicines.
Even into the late 20th century, some isolated areas in the developed world did not have electricity, purified water or paved roads and some people still lived in drafty shacks or log cabins, sometimes with dirt floors. Before the improvements in infrastructure, large multi-generational families were the norm because of high childhood death rates and the need for surviving children to care for their parents in a world where there was no social safety net for the disabled and elderly. Large families also filled the need for labor in a world where mechanical devices were few or lacking and back breaking work was needed for every job, whether agricultural, industrial or domestic. Without reliable electricity, transportation systems and industrial and agricultural development, we all could be back there now.
This is where rural Africa and underdeveloped countries are now. What will it take for developing countries to catch up with the developed world? First, we need to end counterproductive and damaging interference by international organizations that are working under wrong assumptions from the distant past about supposed overpopulation as a cause of environmental harm. Wrong practices include imposing population control and blocking effective insect and disease control, as well as modern agriculture and infrastructure development, while putting cultural and wildlife preservation above the real immediate needs of the people. Poverty, not overpopulation, causes environmental harm. Improving the economy can stabilize the population and preserve both cultural heritage and wildlife. Modern agricultural practices can end slash and burn deforestation and feed everyone.
Africa needs Investment, Infrastructure, Employment, Education and Disease Control.
Education in hygiene can end much of the disease burden, facilitate clean water and sanitation systems, and provide a healthy workforce. Education in agricultural, industrial and technical skills can open opportunities for employment, small business earnings and raise their standard of living. Transportation in the form of improved and extended roads and railroads can end isolation, encourage foreign investment and provide access to markets, employment opportunities, education and medical facilities.
Reliable electricity is important for economic growth and can facilitate the development of transportation systems, medical facilities and industrial investment, all of which cannot run on intermittent and varying power as provided by wind and solar power. Solar panels on huts are a start, but should only be a temporary energy solution until reliable electrical systems can be installed and extended into rural areas. Solar panels should never be used as a substitute for true energy security or an excuse for neglect.
Poor countries cannot afford to skip the reliable types of energy generation that have made the developed world what it is today. The solution should include all means possible, including hydroelectric, geothermal, fossil fuel and nuclear power. Africa has enough hydroelectric potential to supply all of their needs for the foreseeable future. Hydroelectric power is both clean and reliable. In Africa alone, over 200 hydroelectric dams have been blocked by environmentalists. This must stop!
Africa needs Investment, Infrastructure, Employment, Education and Disease Control.
Foreign aid must be replaced by investment in infrastructure. Most of the foreign aid is given to prop up corrupt governments. Leaders become rich while most of the aid is not used for famine relief or to build rural infrastructure and seldom reaches the people in need. Government to government foreign aid props up corrupt leaders, makes them accountable only to their donors, not the people, and prolongs poverty. Leaders that depend on foreign aid, not the tax base, are less likely to want to attract investment in new businesses or to invest in infrastructure that facilitates economic growth. As long as the problems are not solved, foreign aid money keeps coming, so corrupt leaders benefit from keeping their countries poor and controlled.
Foreign aid, other than temporary disaster relief, must be replaced with investment in infrastructure including extended electrical systems, powered by all means available, and improved and extended roads, railroads, airports and bridges, as well as education and medical facilities, and industry. The aim is to raise the economy so that poor countries no longer need outside help, but rather are net contributors to the world economy, or at least are self sufficient. It can be done and you can help.
What can you do? Lots! Here are a few suggestions from my book. Start by contacting government officials and elected representatives to demand that perpetual government to government foreign aid be replaced with accountable infrastructure investment, and that abuses by the UN and other organizations be eliminated and better practices be implemented ASAP. Donate to charities that help build infrastructure such as World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse. Volunteer to go and work with these organizations in poor countries. Invest in businesses/industries that are selling or buying African goods or are locating new businesses in Africa, or are offering real infrastructure assistance, or are improving medical and educational facilities.
My award winning book, Saving Africa From Lies That Kill: How Myths about the Environment and Overpopulation are Destroying Third World Countries is now available online and in book stores everywhere. In print and eBook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million.
Award-Winning Finalist in the Social Change category of the 2019 International Book Awards
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Electricity infrastructure experiences frequent failures and inability to cope with even a slight drizzle of rain. Power blackouts—like the one that occurred in New York in early July—are an everyday event in many parts of India.
That is an appalling situation even by Third World standards, given that the city is the hub of some of the richest tech companies in the world.
Despite rapid economic development in India, some of India’s biggest cities still lack basic infrastructure and sanitation facilities. One reason is how rapidly its economy has grown—outpacing the growth of its infrastructure.
With 1.3 billion people, India’s developing economy can only achieve infrastructure progress in its major cities by achieving rapid economic progress. The economic progress in turn is primarily dependent on its energy sector. Energy is the backbone of any developing economy.
Ever since the liberalization of its economy in the 1990s, India has progressed by leaps and bounds. The manufacturing and service industries are slowly drawing people away from agriculture.
Many forget that this propulsion of India’s economy in the past three decades, and of any growing economy for that matter, was made possible because fossil fuels have provided energy and improved agricultural outputs: the two key pillars of India’s economy.
Today, India produces more electricity than required, but the transmission infrastructure is far behind the standards of developed countries. Fossil fuel provides more than three-fourths of the country’s energy. Fossil fuel-based fertilizers and pesticides have helped the country produce enough food for domestic consumption and export.
Twenty years ago, everyone I knew was aware of the fact that coal is one of the major solutions to our energy problems. We were right.
Today, coal is not only the country’s largest contributor to electricity, it is also the cheapest and most abundant source, resulting in uninterrupted power supply in places that have good grid infrastructure.
Our infrastructure—including transport and other public utility systems—will improve only as our economy continues to use the coal reserves, the existing oil resources, and the newly discovered natural gas reserves.
India’s defiant embrace of fossil fuels, despite pressure from anti-fossil establishments, gives hope to residents like me who can dream about a future with drivable roads and uninterrupted power supply.