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There Is An Immediate Solution To Sub-Saharan Africa’s Power Challenges

By Robert Bagatsing
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Access to reliable electricity is essential to human development and to a country’s sustainable economic progress. Today, having electricity is vital in providing basic social services to people, conducting business and running industrial operations. Unfortunately, billions of people around the world still do not have access to reliable electricity, with a great number of them living in the rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.

In its publication World Energy Outlook 2015, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reveals that there are approximately 634 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa without access to electricity, and that the average national electrification rate in the region only stands at 32%.

It also reports that although electrification efforts are underway in Sub-Saharan Africa, electrification in urban areas has widely outpaced that in rural areas since 2000. In fact, the latest figures show that the average urban electrification rate in Sub-Saharan Africa stands at 59%, while that of rural, in contrast, stands at only 17%.

By virtue of the above observations, IEA says that Sub-Saharan Africa has now become the “most electricity poor region” in terms of the total number of people and the share of its overall population.

In a separate release, the World Bank ascribes the region’s energy poverty to various factors, including low access and insufficient capacity, and poor reliability. It notes that the electrification rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is lesser than other low-income countries, and that the entire installed generation capacity in the region (excluding South Africa) is only 28 GW, comparable to that of Argentina.

It further observes that due to poor reliability of the region’s existing power infrastructure, Sub-Saharan Africa's residents and industries experience power outages equivalent to 56 days per year. As a result, it adds, businesses and industries lose anywhere between 6% and 20% of sales revenues.

It, then, sounds a warning that the shortcomings in the region’s power sector are a real threat to Sub-Saharan Africa’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness.

Electrification Efforts are underway
Today, driving the growth of Africa’s energy sector takes the spotlight at various industry conferences and engagement events all around the world, such as the 2016 Africa Energy Forum, which will transpire in late July. These gatherings provide a venue for a notable number of industry stakeholders, including government officials and head of relevant ministries, regulatory authorities, power providers like Altaaqa Global Cat Rental Power, financial institutions and investors, to talk about salient energy issues and cast a forward-looking gaze at opportunities for the betterment of the sector.

Significantly, key industry stakeholders are now undertaking myriad power projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the objective of increasing the region’s overall access to reliable electricity, enhancing the effectiveness and governance of state-owned utilities, and rehabilitating ageing and dilapidated power infrastructure, among others.

While the above-mentioned initiatives aim to promote long-term development within Sub-Saharan Africa’s power sector, they may, in reality, take several years to come to fruition.

Without denying the merits of the ongoing efforts, we observe that what Sub-Saharan Africa needs are reliable power solutions that can be immediately deployed, delivered, installed and operated. In the face of the region’s suppressed electrification rate and issues of intermittency and unreliability among its existing power infrastructure, what it needs are power solutions that can guarantee a continuous and reliable supply of electricity anytime and anywhere it is needed.

Multi-megawatt temporary power solutions can open doors to a definitive resolution of Sub-Saharan Africa’s power challenges.

There is a solution: Temporary Power Technologies

Temporary power plants represent an immediate, reliable, scalable and cost-efficient solution to the region’s power concerns.

The installation of temporary power plants does not call for extensive site preparation nor for the refurbishment of transmission and distribution grids. As soon as the generators and other power equipment arrive on site, they can be immediately installed, commissioned and powered on within days. In a matter of days, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa will be supplied with a consistent and reliable electricity supply.

The governments, power utility providers, nor industries and businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa will not need to spend scarce financial resources on capital expenditure, which is usually the case when procuring large-scale power equipment of building permanent power facilities. The governments and other industry stakeholders can conveniently pay for the rented electricity from their operating revenues. As industry activities grow and the requirement for electricity increases, they can simply choose to add more power modules to the temporary power plant, precluding the need to buy additional equipment or build other permanent facilities. By the same token, in case the power requirement decreases, the load of the temporary power plant can be proportionally adjusted.

Temporary power providers offer a full range of services, including operating and maintaining the power plants. Temporary power providers have well-trained, expert engineers that will ensure that the power plants run at the optimal level all the time.

As the region eases through its power challenges, and as soon as the long-term power sector development plans are gradually rolled out, the governments or the power utilities can simply choose to end the temporary power contract. The entire temporary power plant will be demobilized, leaving no idle power equipment nor permanent power plants running on part-load and requiring constant maintenance, servicing and upgrades.

Sub-Saharan Africa Needs Electricity to Progress

Modern and industrializing economies, such as the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, need an efficient and reliable supply of electricity to sustain their social and economic activities that will fuel their further growth. Temporary power solutions can immediately provide them with the much needed boost in power supply, making inroads into a sustainable and viable social and economic progress.

Spotlight on Africa’s power sector at the AEF 2016

The development of Sub-Saharan Africa’s power sector will be in focus at the 2016 Africa Energy Forum (AEF 2016), on 22-24 June at the Intercontinental O2 in London, UK. Dubbed as the most respected and established annual gathering of power players, AEF 2016 with throw the spotlight on the latest innovations that drive the growth of Africa’s energy sector, including temporary power technologies.

Altaaqa Global, a leading multi-megawatt temporary power solutions provider, will be at the event to showcase its products and services. Located at Stand #58, Altaaqa Global welcomes the opportunity to talk about its multi-megawatt rental power plants, and how it can help Sub-Saharan African countries gain access to reliable electricity.

About Altaaqa Global
Altaaqa Global, a subsidiary of Zahid Group, has been selected by Caterpillar Inc. to deliver multi-megawatt turnkey temporary power solutions worldwide. The company owns, mobilizes, installs, and operates efficient temporary independent power plants (IPP’s) at customer sites, focusing on the emerging markets of Sub-Sahara Africa, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Latin America, South East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Offering power rental equipment that will operate with different types of fuel such as diesel, natural gas, or dual-fuel, Altaaqa Global is positioned to rapidly deploy and provide temporary power plant solutions, delivering electricity whenever and wherever it may be needed.