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Electricity demand growing even as electrification rate in Africa lags

Globally the demand for electricity will continue to grow, says Kenneth Oyakhire, Managing Director, Services – SSA, for GE Vernova’s Gas Power.

Speaking at Enlit Africa, now on in Cape Town, Oyakhire said this demand is driven by several factors such as GDP growth and an expanding middle class; electrification of transport and the heat sector; and more people gaining access to electricity.

“Looking at the energy landscape and looking at the future, renewable energy will continue to grow. It gives us flexibility, it’s reliable and is a straight way to get to net-zero as quickly as possible,” said Oyakhire.

“It’s not going to grow as rapidly as we want, but we need to intensively drive renewables. Gas will play a key role – it’s flexible, affordable and reliable.

“50% Of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa still do not have access to affordable electricity.”


“Storage will continue to grow and scale. Cost for battery storage is becoming competitive as innovation and new ideas are brought into the energy space.

“Nuclear as a source is the only power that is zero-carbon; 10% of energy global is from nuclear.”

Oyakhire said the grid will continue to play an enabling role in the pathway towards net-zero greenhouse emissions.

“It gives us the opportunity for good, diversified energy mix. Digital will bring it all together.”

Electricity needs to be affordable, reliable and sustainable

Oyakhire pointed out that SMP Global Insights says the average per capita power consumption of electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa is one sixth of the global average.

“50% Of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa still do not have access to affordable electricity.

“On top of this, electricity demand will increase by 3% in 2024 alone.”

“We have to be smart and balance our energy transition aspirations and electricity availability. The energy trilemma is present and here to stay. It is simply working to solve the challenges that come with affordability, reliability and sustainability,” said Oyakhire.

He believes the world needs to grow renewable energy generation capacity as fast it can afford, accelerate decarbonisation with the help of gas resources and invest heavily into the grid.

“We’re not going to get there overnight, and we aren’t going to move from 100 to 0 overnight, so we have to be smart on how we approach this.

“There are various ways to approach it, but the one simple way is to have the right combination of gas and renewables. It’s a no brainer to reduce emissions.

About the author

ESI Africa
Content Team
ESI Africa is the global leader in disseminating African utility, energy, power, mobility and water market news and insights. We provide over 50,000 professionals with renowned high quality and insightful editorial, equipping them with essential information to drive their own businesses.
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