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From 2000 through today, 145 million Africans have been able to establish access to some form of electric energy. And yet even these impressive numbers aren’t enough. The progressive electrification of the African continent is moving more slowly than population growth.


Photo: Russel Watkins DFID UK












If this doesn’t change, and despite undeniable improvements, by 2040 there will be an additional 45 million Africans without access to power. This paradox was recently the focus of a report titled Lights Power Action. Electrifying Africa, published by the African Progress Panel.
The research, which was released in its complete form in the panel’s annual report Power, People, Planet: Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities, underlines the need to accelerate things by providing solutions - strategic, in approaches, technological - that can truly be considered innovative.

Overcoming this gap will be possible only by taking advantage in the best manner possible of the opportunities the African continent offers in terms of available energy sources, and which technological innovation provides: off-grid systems, mini-grids, on-grids not considered as alternatives to one another, but rather integral with each and capable of responding to immediate, diversified needs, all of which are fundamental in order to help the country advance in terms of the battle against energy poverty. Having a solar panel in order to turn on a solar lamp means taking a first step along the energy ladder.

The second is a domestic energy supply system built with solar panels; at the top of the ladder stands an e-highway power system fed by renewable energy sources. While this first step is fundamental in order for consumers to undertake an incremental process of energy demand that feeds and supports overall economic development, it is important not to overlook how vital it is to invest in avantgarde, fixed network structures. The model and integration of these different elements must be identified starting with an analysis of the costs and benefits among the various options, as well as the diverse mixes, interweaving data on population density, available energy resources, the cost of technologies, the level of general infrastructure, energy demand…

The approach proposed by the African Progress Panel involves “a dynamic, resilient system that presents multiple options and expansion opportunities for smart grids, mini-grids, hybrid networks, all the way to cross-border super-grids that connect different regions across the continent,” as the long-term scenario toward which the continent must move.
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* QUESTO ARTICOLO È STATO TRATTO DALL’ENERGY JOURNAL 2|2018 PUBBLICATO DA CESI.

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