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Principal Author and Editor 21st Century Tech Blog

Futurist, Writer and Researcher, now retired, former freelance writer for new technology ventures. Former President & CEO of Len Rosen Marketing Inc., a marketing consulting firm focused on...

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  • May 12, 2021 9:08 pm GMT
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What Africa needs today is reliable electrical power. For much of the Sub-Saharan part of the continent, there is little to no electricity. According to United Nations-collected data, as of 2014, this has impacted 62% of the population.

Africa can leapfrog transmission towers and power lines, and go off-grid to a large extent by developing local distribution clusters powered by wind, solar, geothermal, and micro-nuclear while keeping the existing utility infrastructure of hydroelectric and thermal power plants without a larger investment. To go beyond local distribution of electricity, Africa may consider developing technologies such as microwave-energy transmission.

Today in Sub-Saharan Africa, off-the-grid small villages are connected to the Internet by standalone telecommunications installations like Clear Blue Technologies, a Toronto-based company. Each installation is powered by solar and battery backup and provides communities with WiFi Internet connectivity and phone service. The same technology is also delivering electrical power to villages, lighting homes and powering refrigerators and other appliances. So we know that off-grid can work.

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Theophilus Sackey's picture
Theophilus Sackey on May 24, 2021

Dear Len,

Thanks a lot for an interesting article which touches on a subject matter critical for some of us who have been agonizing for quite a while over how to deal with the unacceptable electricity situation in Africa.

The key gap which i see in the proposed solution, however, is reliability and adequacy of supply.  I think that as a solution for rural and residential supply, offgrid/mini grid arrangements with solar/wind etc may be tolerable but then the key reasons for Africa's electricity condition poverty situations are socio-economic and unless without adequate, reliable and cost-competitive electricity supply to drive economic development, coupled with effective political organisation and governance, it is difficult for me to envisage light at the end of the tunnel (no pun intended).

That said, there is definitely something to be said and considered for the proposed approach.

Many thanks again for an interesting article.  

Theo.

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