The Africa Energy Outlook 2022 is a new special report from the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook series.
It explores pathways for Africa’s energy system to evolve toward achieving all African development goals, including universal access to modern and affordable energy services by 2030.
The report noted that the continent has the lowest levels of per capita use of modern energy in the world. Modern energy is electric energy, which is usually cabled into a home or dwelling.
Most Africans rely on wood as their primary source of energy. The infrastructure associated with commercial fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, or electricity makes it expensive and difficult to produce and distribute efficiently in developing countries.
The World Bank reported that wood provides about 85% of all the energy used in Africa.
Even in modern cities, wood accounts for almost half the energy used. However, the use of fuel wood is difficult to measure or regulate in the same way as other fuels because many people gather it themselves and do not pay for it.
As Africa's population and incomes grow, the demand for modern energy will increase by a third between 2020 and 2030. However, the report suggests that under existing subsidy schemes, price spikes risk doubling energy subsidy burdens in African countries in 2022, which would lead to an untenable outcome for many facing crippling levels of debt.
Some countries, including Egypt, Ethiopia and Uganda, are being driven to halt or reduce energy subsidies or reinstate fuel taxes due to growing financial burdens. The report urges that international support must play a role in the near term to manage prices, but better targeting of subsidies to the households most in need is essential.
Efficiency in the energy system helps temper demand growth, reduces fuel imports, the strain on infrastructure and keeps consumer bills affordable. Building codes and energy performance standards, which restrict the sale of the least efficient appliances and lighting, will make up 60% of the savings.
The report took special note of future energy demands for fans and air conditioning, which will quadruple over the decade as urbanisation and climate change rapidly increase the need for cooling in Africa, calling for a strong focus on efficient cooling solutions.
As Africa’s industry, commerce, and agriculture expand, so too does the need for productive uses of energy. In the Sustainable Africa Scenario, energy demand in industry, freight and agriculture grows by almost 40% by 2030.
The report suggests that an increase in the local production of fertiliser, steel and cement, as well as the manufacturing of appliances, vehicles and clean energy technologies helps to reduce the burden of imports in Africa, which stands at more than 20% of GDP today.