The prospects for conventional and renewable energy in the context of African economies

Stauss, Wolfgang (2005-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Energy of any form is of paramount importance in the development process of communities, regions and nations. It is a domestic necessity but also a factor of production whose cost directly affects prices of other goods and services, and the competitiveness of enterprises. Energy also plays a critical role in enabling social improvement and development: economies that are unable to provide access to modem energy for everyone at reasonable costs are left behind in a globalised world. Industrialised countries have proved that efficient energy production and distribution is a key factor for the generation of wealth. They have built there success on energy sources that are easily accessible and convertible into motion, heat or electricity. However, most of these sources are limited and not renewable in the literal meaning of the word. Huge infrastructure projects and trillion dollar investments are done in energy sources like fossil fuels that will in a not too distant future be exhausted. Additionally, these fuels lead to climate change with unpredictable consequences. Renewable energy on the other hand, has not been given enough political and financial attention that would make it competitive and provide a real alternative. Developing countries, and the African continent as a whole, have tried to imitate the economies of the first world when it comes to energy sourcing. They are very likely to fall into the same traps: large investments into projects that benefit a small number of people, over capacities on the supply side, energy generation that is closely connected to environmental pollution and last but not least: dependency on energy reserves that are located in politically unstable regions of the world. It is recommended that Africa as a continent should work on energy sourcing concepts that • reduce poverty and enable development, • give its scattered population access to modern energy at reasonable cost, • rely on socially and environmentally sustainable energy generation, • integrate regions to avoid conflicts, • lead to independency from external energy supply and • make the continent a competitive actor in the global market place. In the case of 3 African countries namely Algeria, Ghana and South Africa it is illustrated that there is an opportunity for Africa to do things differently and to learn from the mistakes in the history of modem energy. The focus on existing opportunities, the interest to learn from others and the readiness to work together with partners enable these nations to really fuel development and achieve above average social and economical growth.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Energie in alle vorme is van uiterste belang in die ontwikkeiingsproses van gemeenskappe, streke en nasies. Dit is beide 'n plaaslike vereiste, maar ook 'n produksiefaktor, waarvan die koste 'n direkte invloed het op pryse van ander goedere en dienste en die mededingendheid van ondernemings. Ekonomië wat nie die vermoe het om toegang na moderne energie vir almal teen redelike koste te gee nie, word agtergelaat in 'n geglobaliseerde wereld. Geindustrialiseerde lande het bewys dat effektiewe energieproduksie en -verspreiding 'n sleutelfaktor is vir welvaartskepping. Hulle sukses is gebou op energiebronne wat maklik, toeganklik en omskakelbaar is in beweging, hitte of elektrisiteit. Meeste van hierdie bronne is egter beperk en nie hernubaar nie. Enorme infrakstuktuurprojekte van biljoene dollar word investeer in energiebronne soos fossielbrandstof wat in die nie-soverre-toekoms uitgeput sal wees. Die gebruik van hierdie tipe brandstof lei tot klimaatsveranderinge met onvoorspelbare gevolge. Hernubare energie het egter nog nie genoegsame politieke en finansiele steun gekry wat dit 'n mededingende werklike alternatief maak nie. Ontwikkelende lande en Afrika as geheel, probeer eerste wereldse ekonomie navolg ten opsigte van energie verkryging. Die kanse is goed dat hulle in die volgende slaggate sal val: Groot investering wat min mense bevoordeel; oorvoorsiening ten opsigte van lewering; energie-opwekking wat omgewingsbesoedeling aan die hand werk; afhanklikheid van energie-reserwes wat in politiese onstabiele streke van die wereld gelee is. Dit word aanbeveel dat die Afrika-kontinent werk na energiebron konsepte wat: • Verminderde armoede aan die hand werk en ontwikkeling bevorder • 'n Verspreide bevolking toegang gee tot moderne energie teen billike pryse • Vertrou op sosiaal en omgewings volhoubare energie opwekking • Streke integreer ten einde konflik te vermy • Afhanklikheid van eksterne energie bronne vermy • Die kontinent 'n mededingende speler in die wereldmark, maak. In die gevalle van drie Afrika lande naamlik, Algerie, Ghana en Suid-Afrika, is dit geillustreer dat daar is 'n geleentheid vir Afrika om nie die foute van die verlede te herhaal nie. Die fokus op bestaande geleenthede, die belangstelling om te leer van andere en die bereidwilligheid om saam met vernote te werk, skep die geIeentheid vir hierdie lande om ontwikkeling te dryf en om bo-gemiddelde ekonomiese en sosiale groei aan te teken.

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