-World Bank report says
April 23, 2018 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The 17th edition of Africa Plus – a bi-annual World Bank Report – has revealed that Sierra Leone has the lowest percentage of access to electricity per population density in the world, with less than ten percent of its populace having access to much needed energy.
The report was launched last week at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington D.C. by Albert G. Zeufack, the Bank’s Chief Economist for the Africa Region – in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Sierra Leone.
The report named Sierra Leone, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, and Benin as countries where less than 20 percent of installed generation capacity is being utilised.
However, the report acknowledged that electricity consumption in the region is low, compared to other parts of the world, adding that the average annual consumption per capita in sub-Saharan Africa is equivalent to just four percent of consumption per capita in the United States, and 15 and 21 percent of that in China and Brazil respectively.
Zeufack is quoted as saying that access to electricity would lift productivity within and across sectors and that African governments must fully embrace technology and leverage innovation to ensure quality, affordable and sustainable electricity.
He further stated that substantial cost reductions from rapid technological improvements in home-scale solar power production offers opportunities to improve the lives of people without access to electricity in more lightly populated rural and remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
The World Bank Chief Economist opined that mini-grids were a viable possibility for scaling up electricity availability in areas where grid extension was costly or could only be accomplished some ways into the future.
According to the report, improved governance in the electricity sector was a prerequisite, regardless of technical configurations used to expand access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, the report recommended rationalising electricity pricing, reducing regulatory barriers that limit private sector investment in grid or off-grid power production, making utility operations more efficient and transparent, and fostering more independent sector regulation.
Also, Zeufack advised that technical innovations, especially in solar power, provide the possibility for faster progress in electricity provision by complementing grid expansion with mini-grids and home-scale systems.