Prospects for energy transitions in sub-Saharan Africa

  • This presentation surveys the current energy landscape across sub-Saharan Africa and considers the prospects for energy transitions in the region. Specifically it considers the prospects for low-carbon transitions in the context of a region that is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Crude oil and natural gas exports contribute the vast majority of state revenues in sub-Saharan Africa’s major oil and gas exporting countries, and additional countries are seeking to exploit newly discovered oil and gas deposits to become significant exporters. The region also contains a range of potential unconventional sources of fossil fuels, ranging from ultra-deepwater oil and gas to coal-bed methane and oil sands. In addition, sub-Saharan Africa is currently experiencing a gap between the capacity to generate electricity and the increase in demand – an ‘energy gap’ – that is greater than anywhere else. What, in this context, will the main social, political and economic drivers for a low-carbon transition be, and where are they likely to emerge? To attempt an answer to these questions, the presentation will focus on three interrelated issues: sub-Saharan Africa’s a) energy gap; b) fossil fuel dependence; and c) growth in, and potential for, renewable sources of energy.


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