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Africa faces an energy crisis. It is not getting enough energy for its growing needs and the resources currently being used the most are running out.
This emerged from a progress report by Professor Firmino Mucavele, chief executive of the secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).
The report was delivered to the Pan-African parliament this week in Midrand, South Africa.
"In spite of all the investment made, the development of energy in the continent still lags behind population growth and socio-economic needs," Mucavele said in his report.
Per capita consumption is "dramatically low", as is efficiency, and there is a "very high dependency on traditional fuels" south of the Sahara.
There was also a high dependency on oil in commercial form, which makes up half of the energy bill in countries that don't produce oil.
Africa, which has 13 percent of the world's population, consumes only three percent of the world's commercial energy, despite its share of production standing on seven percent.
"Thus, most of the commercial energy it produces is consumed elsewhere," said Mucavele's report.
Another huge area of concern was that Africa was steadily using up its firewood. Biomass, or traditional fuels, account for two-thirds of energy consumption in sub-Saharan Africa.
"It is not so much their use that is wrong, but the manner in which they are being managed and used, not always in a sustainable manner," said the report.
A critical aspect of African energy policy is to "move towards more sustainable biomass use", and at the same time develop a range of energy supplies and technologies. Improved energy services is an "urgent necessity" in order to combat poverty.
Mucavele pointed out that the amount of gas flared in Nigeria alone - burnt off since it is surplus to production needs - could be used to meet the whole of sub-Saharan Africa's current electricity demand.
Another huge potential is in hydro power, and Africa "should embark on a programme to exploit both hydro and flared gas for multi-purpose uses", and not only energy production.
Mucavele said on the positive side that it appears that African leaders have realised it could not be "business as usual" when it comes to energy production. - Independent Foreign Service
News date: 10/05/2007