Balancing the need to cut high CO² emissions with the demands for electricity to drive development is one of the main challenges facing the African continent.

Energy is the backbone of any economy and its reliable supply is critical to Africa’s development. But these objectives must be weighed against growing global environmental concerns and the need to curb CO² emissions.
South Africa has a dirty economy, emitting around 500 Mt of CO², or 40% of Africa’s CO² emissions, a year – and 45% of this is emitted by Eskom in the production of electricity.
South Africa has committed itself to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 and by 42% by 2025 (off 2009 levels and from where emissions would expect to be in 2020 if no carbon mitigation was done). In order to reach the target, Eskom will need to dramatically alter its energy mix to include natural gas, wind, solar and nuclear power.
The South African Energy draft plan released late last year includes proposals for the energy mix by 2030. Coal is meant to contribute 48% by 2030, followed by renewable energy (16%), nuclear (14%), peaking open-cycle gas turbine (9%), peaking pump storage (6%), mid-merit gas (5%) and base-load import hydro (2%).
The plan directs expansion of the electricity supply over the next 20 year period and aims to create the right mix of technologies to meet future electricity needs in line with the country’s commitments to climate change initiatives, ensuring adequate supply and creating a local manufacturing base.
As South Africa, and Africa as a whole, follows a greener path, new green industries and technologies are likely to create an investment boom similar to railways, cars and information technology in previous centuries. The global market for environmental products and services is projected to already be worth $5-trillion in goods and services. The alternative energy market is also labour-intensive, with a high potential for local supply and is growing globally. Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has declared green jobs as a key to rolling back South Africa’s 30% unemployment rate.
Overall, the local and African energy landscape is a challenging arena with a growing number of participants and many challenges to overcome in order to achieve a reliable energy supply in an increasingly low-carbon environment.
Power & Electricity World Africa Conference and Exhibition, taking place from 28 March in Sandton, is a forum for industry players to interact and discuss possible solutions to the energy challenges facing the continent.
The event will incorporate 11 shows, including: Power Generation World; Clean Technology World; Smart Electricity World; Bio Energy World Africa 2011; Energy Efficiency World; On-site Power; Hydro Power World; Solar World Africa 2011; Green Buildings World and IPP World Africa 2011, together incorporating everything to do with power and electricity generation and usage in Africa. Power & Electricity World Africa 2011 will also include 2 full days of more than 50 free technical seminars that visitors to the exhibition can attend.