According to Power Engineering Online, the integration of energy infrastructure is necessary in order to promote regional economic integration and enable industries to reach economies of scale, the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa (Tralac) has said.
Analysing the future of electricity in Africa, Tralac researcher JB Cronjé said last week that few countries "have sufficient demand to justify large enough power plants to exploit economies of scale." Sub-Saharan countries have varying levels of electrification but most have an electrification level of less than 30 per cent, Cronjé said, adding that currently Sub-Sahara Africa has a total power generation capacity of 68 GW, which is equivalent to that of Spain.
South Africa accounts for two-thirds of Sub-Sahara Africa's current generation capacity of which 90 per cent is generated by coal. With a population of 49 million, SA has a total generation capacity of about 45 000 MW while the second largest generator, Nigeria (with a population of 150 million) has a total generation capacity of less than 6 000 MW, and thirty three African countries have national power systems that produce and consume less than 500 MW, Cronjé said.
Many electricity markets in Sub-Sahara Africa are still vertically integrated with government owned generation, transmission and distribution entities, he said. This situation makes the region less attractive for private power infrastructure investment. "The liberalisation of the industry through unbundling and re-regulation is therefore necessary in light of the insufficient capacity in the region to supply electricity demand," Cronjé said, according to Power Engineering Online.
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