Ghana is among a handful of countries that are “on track to achieve universal access to electricity” by 2030, according to the World Energy Outlook 2020 published, on Tuesday, by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The other African countries to also make the breakthrough are Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal and Rwanda.
The WEO has been published amid the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, that has led to a drop in global emissions.
However, the Outlook says that the world still has to come up with “well-designed energy policies for a resilient energy system that can meet climate goals”.
It says global emissions are set to bounce back more slowly than after the financial crisis of 2008-2009, but the world is still a long way from a sustainable recovery.
“Despite a record drop in global emissions this year, the world is far from doing enough to put them into decisive decline,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director.
“The economic downturn has temporarily suppressed emissions, but low economic growth is not a low-emissions strategy – it is a strategy that would only serve to further impoverish the world’s most vulnerable populations. “Only faster structural changes to the way we produce and consume energy can break the emissions trend for good.
“Governments have the capacity and the responsibility to take decisive actions to accelerate clean energy transitions and put the world on a path to reaching our climate goals, including net-zero emissions.”
The report points out that investment in clean energy offers a way to boost economic growth, create jobs and reduce emissions.
Dr Birol said: “Africa holds the key for global energy transitions, as it is the continent with the most important ingredients for producing critical technologies.”
The Tema LNG Terminal, for instance, positions Ghana as a regional hub for gas, allowing other nations to benefit from connectivity to the international market, while offering a cost-effective and reliable source of energy to help develop the economies of Ghana and its neighbours, according to energy experts.
“Africa’s infrastructure needs currently present a challenge to its development, but also offer a major opportunity for long-term growth,” one energy expert said in London.
“Demand is increasing for raw minerals both in Africa and worldwide. “With the right investments and infrastructure plan, and the developments of projects like the Tema LNG Terminal, African countries can use modern technologies and expertise to deliver long-lasting, sustainable benefits to their societies.
“This can then spur development in other areas through increased income, stability of energy supply and increased regional and international trade.”
The WEO, however, says, all this would be dependent on the electricity sector playing “a key role in supporting economic recovery, and an increasingly important long-term role in providing the energy that the world needs.”
“Over time, it looks set to evolve into a system with lower CO2 emissions, a stronger infrastructure base and enhanced flexibility.”
It says by 2030, the growth in the demand for electricity in Africa would be “most pronounced”, pointing to the planned targets in Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal and Rwanda.
However, the WEO’s projection is that in a decade, 660 million people would still lack access to electricity – including 33 per cent of the population in Africa.
“The pandemic has reversed several years of decline in the number of people in sub-Saharan Africa without access to electricity,” the Outlook notes. “And a rise in poverty levels may have made basic electricity services unaffordable for more than 100 million people worldwide who had electricity connections.”
Last month, the IEA said in a report that after years of slow progress, technologies to capture carbon emissions and store or reuse them were gaining momentum, a trend that would need to accelerate significantly for the world to achieve its energy and climate goals.
Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) is the only group of technologies that contributes both to reducing emissions in key sectors directly and to removing CO2 from the atmosphere to balance the emissions that are the hardest to prevent – a crucial part of reaching the net-zero emissions goals that a growing number of governments and companies have set for themselves.
The technology is expected to be useful to African countries over the next 20 years as they undergo the largest process of urbanisation in the world. “Africa has a unique opportunity to pursue a much less carbon-intensive development path than many other parts of the world,” said Dr Birol.
“For example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo accounts for two-thirds of global production of cobalt, a vital element in batteries, and South Africa produces 70 per cent of the world’s platinum, which is used in hydrogen fuel cells.
“As energy transitions accelerate, so will demand for those minerals,” he added.
The IEA, a 30-country member organisation, was created in 1974 to ensure the security of oil supplies. It has, however, evolved over the years with energy security remaining as its core mission.
In the global energy space, its engagement focuses on a wide variety of issues, ranging from electricity security to investments, climate change and air pollution, energy access and efficiency.