Africa’s energy ministers say the continent has the lowest level of electrification in the world. The Forum for Energy Ministers of Africa is meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, are seeking ways to improve the delivery of energy on the continent.
Syda Bbumba, Uganda’s minister of Energy and Mines, is the chair of the forum. She told English to Africa’s Angel Tabe that Africa’s energy problems are compounded by current climatic changes.
She said the Forum for Energy Ministers is a “focus for the enhancement of the power supply and distribution in Africa…. Most of our countries have been relying on hydro (-electricity) for power generation, but with the recent drought, power generation has become a crisis…and secondly, we have not harnessed all the hydro resources available on the continent.” Bbumba says, “We are looking at enhancing solar power…building bio-gas, developing all the renewable resources possible, among which hydropower is most dominant.
To environmentalists, Bbumba had this to say: “Over the last ten years, we’ve not been able to expand our stock of hydro stations because we have been busy fighting with environmentalists. There is no environmental degradation worst than a human being living below the minimum standards of life. These hydros can be developed with sufficient environmental [guarantees] to ensure that scenic beauty is protected.”
Bbumba also discussed the benefits of a New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD: “It will enhance the development of infrastructure projects by partner states. The biggest advantages are an expanded market…and the individual country’s political and other risks are reduced, and the ease with which we can raise money for funding.” For the partnership to be sustainable, she says, “What is important is for us to resolve, really, to recognize the importance of regional projects, and make it easy for the partner states to access funding. Bbumba adds that the political will is there to do all that, but not on the part of development partners, “who are still studying the situation.”
The bottom line, Bbumba says, is that “sub-Saharan Africa is suffering the worst energy crisis in the last fifty years.” Her appeal: “Whoever thinks he is a friend of Africa, this is the time to come to our rescue, to ensure that Africa gets out of darkness.”