Africa’s energy systems can leapfrog onto low-carbon pathways where renewables replace fossil fuels and could become the global leader in low-carbon development

Michael Tichareva

In view of the just ended United Nations Climate Summit, the Conference of the Parties 26 (COP 26), held in Glasgow in November 2021, I just thought that I should delve more into climate change issues.

In one of my routine habits of searching for new and emerging issues, I was privileged, years back, to stumble across and learn more about the work of one of the highly regarded panels on the African continent, the Africa Progress Panel (“APP”).

The APP consists of distinguished individuals from the private and public sector who advocate equitable and sustainable development for Africa. The Panel makes policy recommendations for African political leaders and civil society who collectively have the primary responsibility for spurring Africa’s progress.

The APP also highlights critical steps that must be taken by leaders in the international public and private sector.

The APP produces an annual Africa Progress Report (“APR”), its annual flagship publication. I had a chance to review the 2015 APR that focuses on clean energy, climate change and poverty reduction

Developing renewable energy is certainly an area where Africa can take the lead as it has a competitive advantage being at early stages of energy development to power Africa where she certainly can adopt, adapt and innovate.




The 2015 APR paints a great picture about where Africa is in terms of energy demand and supply, the challenges, and makes recommendations on what African Governments should be focusing on to progress the renewable energy agenda.

The report highlights some very interesting statistics. In terms of global carbon dioxide emissions, Africa accounts for only 2.3%. In comparison, the EU emits 12%, the US 16% and China 25%.

The APP contends that Africa must take a leadership position and curtail carbon emissions from Africa at this low level by developing more renewable energy. Africa’s energy systems can leapfrog onto low-carbon pathways where renewables replace fossil fuels and could become the global leader in low-carbon development.




The 2015 APR highlights Africa’s energy gap and the associated inequalities by giving some sobering statistics:

(1) 621 million Africans do not have access to electricity;

(2) 60% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy is consumed by South Africa;

(3) 93 million Nigerians lack access to electricity, with Ethiopia sitting at 70 million and DRC sitting at 60 million people;

(4) 80% of the population in Africa, approximately 730 million people, rely on solid biomass, mainly fuelwood and charcoal, for cooking;

(5) 0.6 million Africans are killed by air pollution caused by the use of solid biomass for cooking every year and the number is rising such that it is estimated that it will potentially be the major killer ahead of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by 2030 ;

(6) In 9 African countries, more than 80% of primary schools have no electricity (7) In Africa, the poorest households spend 20 times more per unit of energy than the wealthiest households with a connection to the Grid; and (8) On current trends, it will take Africa until 2080 to achieve universal access to electricity.



The absolute number of people with no access to electricity is set to rise, with estimates that by 2030 Africa’s share of the world’s population without electricity will rise from 47.6 percent to 66.6 percent, and the share without clean cooking facilities will rise from 26.3 percent to 34.8 percent. Most of these people are in rural areas.

This calls for swift action, and such action must be closely aligned to renewable energy to power Africa.

The final set of statistics that are interesting relate to the size of the energy market from poor households in Africa, those spending $2.5 per day, estimated at $10 billion per annum.

This compares to $0.15 billion in the UK and $0.12 billion in the US for a similar group of people.

This size of market points to the fact that Africa’s poorest people are paying among the world’s highest prices for energy, paying 20 times more on average.

A woman in rural northern Nigeria pays 60 to 80 times more than a resident of Manhattan, and the same woman in rural northern Nigeria pays 30 times more than a resident of Lagos.

This is a massive market that points to great opportunities for investment and household savings, suggesting that the focus must be on reducing prices, increasing access and empowering households.

The APR notes that reducing energy costs by investing in modern energy could create investment opportunities, increase household savings and reduce poverty.

There is certainly a lot of work to do, and African Governments must pay attention and participate fully at climate summits such as the just ended COP 26, with follow-up actions.



Michael Tichareva is the Managing Director of National Standard Finance Africa and the Executive Chairman of its affiliate, Claxon Actuaries. He can be reached on or






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