Overview of energy in Africa

David Hall
Sandra Van Niekerk
Jan 2013

This report sets out a broad overview of energy provision in Africa, focusing specifically on the role of the public sector, while also mapping out the multiple roles of the private sector. 

Africa currently has the lowest per capita electricity usage of any region in the world.  Most electricity is provided by state-owned utilities, although many of these utilities have, over the years, been broken up, and commercialized, and some have been privatised.  Most electricity production in Africa relies on large hydropower systems or fossil fuels, including gas-fired power stations operated by private ‘independent power producers’ under long-term contracts.  

At the same time, Africa is rich in sources of renewable energy – including wind, hydro- and solar power.  There are various initiatives underway in Africa to tap into renewable energy.  Some of these are state-led initiatives, albeit with private sector partners, while others are smaller, more community based initiatives. Some are extremely large projects led by multinational companies.