Sub Saharan Africa needs to build 7 GW per year

Rome, November 12, 2009 – Sub-Saharan Africa needs to build 7 GW of capacity a year to meet the demand of the region’s 800 million people, according to a new report backed by the G8.

The research compiled by the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa identified the continent’s electricity grids as its most pressing challenge, with 30 countries facing regular blackouts and high premiums for emergency power.

In the power sector, sub-Saharan Africa needs to build 7 GW a year to meet the demand of the region’s 800 million people, who currently have access to the same amount of power as Spain, with a population of just 45 million.

“Power consumption, at 124 kilowatt-hours per capita annually and falling, is only ten per cent of that found elsewhere in the developing world, barely enough to power one 100-watt light bulb per person for three hours a day,” the report said.

The report said that Sub-Saharan Africa needs to double its infrastructure spending to $93 billion a year, 15 percent of regional output, to drag its road, water and power networks into the 21st century.

Despite the gulf between its target figure and the $45 billion spent now, the report said governments could narrow the funding gap to $31 billion by making $17 billion in relatively simple efficiency gains, such as making more electricity users pay their bills.

If all sub-Saharan Africa’s 48 countries caught up with Mauritius, the Indian Ocean island that leads the region in infrastructure terms, overall growth would rise by 2.2 percentage points, it added.

“In most African countries, particularly the lower-income countries, infrastructure emerges as a major constraint on doing business, depressing firm productivity by about 40 percent.”

The ICA was launched at a G8 summit in Scotland in 2005 and its members include, among others, the G8, World Bank, African Development Bank and European Commission.

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