As it is always the case when things do not work at home, Africa has once again looked to Europe to bail it out for the upgrade of its embattled electricity infrastructure.
Six African countries, one in the north, one in the south and four in the west, got a total loan of 460 million USD from the European Investment Bank to fund their power projects, Power Engineering International (PEI) magazine reported last week.
The Kingdom of Morocco got 270 million USD for the installation of a 1300km of overhead power lines, Zambia took home 75 million USD for the construction of a 120 Mega Watts-hydropower plant, London-based PEI, a PenWell Corporation-owned publication, said. Sierra-Leone, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Conakry and Liberia, all member countries of the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) got the rest for a joint project that will link their power systems.
The Luxembourg-based bank, also known by its French abbreviation BEI (Banque Européenne d’Investissment), said the construction of a new 1350 km high-voltage transmission will link the four West African states and connect them to the West African Power Pool. Once completed, the transmission line will enable power exports from Ivory Coast to the three other countries, and the line will later support development of the large hydropower potential in Guinea-Conackry, according to PEI.
Despite boasting rich natural resources and a great economic potential, most African countries lack proper infrastructure, and their power supply is as unstable and unreliable as their political leaderships. Power outages and load-shedding are frequent, which cause frustration and unhappiness and sometimes trigger violent riots in some cities.
The power industry in Sub-Saharan Africa is seriously underdeveloped, with only 53% and 8% of its urban and rural population, respectively, having access to electricity, PenWell Corporation reported early this year. Experts say years of under-investment, negligence, lack of reforms in the sector, outdated technology, ageing infrastructure and state corruption, among others, are to blame for Africa’s electricity woes.
US energy giant PenWell Corporation recently hosted the inaugural Power-Gen Africa 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa, a global platform for debate about Africa’s power needs and an exhibition for new power products and technologies. The event was attended by 2113 delegates from 63 countries, 87 global exhibitors and 94 speakers. The next Power-Gen Africa will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, in November 2014.