Given the scale and urgency of Africa’s needs, it is critical that we generate more power immediately. This means that Africa must exploit all available energy sources, including coal. Such investments should be made with the utmost care and transparency, using the latest and smartest technologies. For developed nations to deny Africa the right to exploit these resources would be hypocritical, particularly given that these countries still rely heavily on coal themselves.
The way forward is clear. Achieving energy security across Africa will require us to tap into all available sources, renewable and non-renewable, including fossil fuel-based options, such as coal. We need access to financing, technology - such as carbon capture and storage, which are already available or coming on stream - and the best available expertise to exploit all the energy options in the least harmful manner, even as we rapidly expand the uptake of more renewable sources of energy.
Africa's continuing energy crisis is crying out for action, even as Africans are shouldering the burden of inaction. The result is lost jobs, diminished productivity, impaired health, and poorly skilled work force that is not equipped to tackle the competitive rigors of the marketplace. Energy security is central to Africa's future.
Energy security is critical for securing growth on the African continent. The agenda is about jobs, livelihoods and environmental protection but also about reducing poverty. Without energy, the quest for sustainable development will remain elusive.
The consequences for both the poor and the rich, if we don't build massive new capacity in a real hurry, are appalling. To be sure, much more effort needs to go into renewables and conservation, but right now, the furnaces and boilers of Medupi are the available answer in an emergency situation.
Power shortages are Africa's biggest barrier to growth and could undo decades of work to help it to compete in world markets. Blackouts are blamed for lost business and emergency fuel costs worth the equivalent of 4 percent of Africa's GDP.
We need power. To create the necessary infrastructure, we need to borrow some money. Yet the World Bank is being told it shouldn’t lend us the money because we will build a coal-fired power station with it. Coal is reputed to be dirty. However, the green lobby offers no economic alternative. So by trying to stop us developing our energy resources (which happen to be mainly coal) the green lobby will make us all poorer — and that includes the already poor.
Affordable energy in ample quantities is the lifeblood of the industrial societies and a prerequisite for the economic development of the others.
It is of critical importance that the World Bank approves our loan application in order to ensure that we have sufficient supply of electricity, to support our economic growth, the creation of decent work and to eradicate poverty.
Africa cannot leap-frog to wind or concentrated solar renewable energy technologies, without judicious transformation from basic, to hybrid technologies such as low carbon energy components and green technologies.