Energy still a key challenge to African industrialisation

Sunday, August 18, 2019

As South African companies concluded their weeklong trade and investment mission in Zambia, the provision of reliable energy was highlighted as a key challenge.

The CEO of the South African Electrotechnical Council (SAEEC), Chiboni Evans, said without energy, the African continent will remain in a state of poverty.

Speaking at a South Africa-Zambia Business Seminar in Kitwe, Zambia, Evans said unless the energy deficit is addressed, Africa will continue talking about industrialisation, growing its manufacturing base, adding value to products and beneficiation of the minerals without having the ability to carry out such aspirations.

Friday’s seminar was part of the Outward Trade and Investment mission to Zambia. The mission was led by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). It kicked off in the capital Lusaka and moved to the second leg in Kitwe.  

“The African Development Bank (AfDB) has stated that in order to industrialise, Africa needs a sufficient stock of productive infrastructure. Estimates are that the continent needs investment of between $130-170 billion a year.

“Through its New Deal on Energy for Africa, the AfDB anticipates that in order for Africa to achieve universal access to electricity by 2025, we will require 160 gigawatts of new capacity, 130 million new on-grid connections and 75 million new off-grid confections. To achieve these goals, it is estimated that the investment needed will range from between $60-90 billion per year,” said Evans.

Evans also made reference to the AfDB report that said in order to industrialise, Africa needs sufficient stock of productive infrastructure in power, water and transport.  

The Chief Commercial Officer of the Copperbelt Energy Corporation in Zambia, Titus Mwambunga, told the South African business representatives that the demand for energy was growing at a rate that is higher than the generation capacity.

To address this challenge, he called on the business representatives to invest in the hydropower generation, interconnectors and grid integration and renewable energy.

On Monday, a delegation of 28 local companies, through the assistance of the dti, embarked on a weeklong Outward Trade and Investment Mission to the capital Lusaka and Kitwe.

The mission, which concluded on Friday, aimed to facilitate market access and expose South African companies to the Zambian market while deepening bilateral trade relations.

South Africa and Zambia share strong bilateral relations, with total trade amounting to R33 billion last year.

South Africa’s main exports to Zambia include machinery and mechanical appliances, base metals and products of the chemical or allied industries. –