CAPE TOWN – Various countries in East Africa are making gradual progress in moving from a solely carbon-based electricity network to a cleaner power grid.
“We are not there yet, but countries are starting to take the bull by the horns,” said Mark Hankins. As a renewable energy consultant he has worked in the field of rural electrification and renewable energy in East and Southern Africa for the past two decades.
The main driver behind the development is rising electricity prices, Nairobi- based Hankins explained. “In East Africa the energy prices are two to five times higher than in South Africa. This is highly unfavourable for both the industry and consumers.”
Hankins was one of the delegates who attended the 2010 edition of the Africa Energy Week, a four-day event hosted by state-owned enterprises and companies and which took place in Cape Town from Sep 27-30.
Close to 150 international energy experts, government officials, representatives of international oil and gas companies and other stakeholders attended.
Another reason behind the growing East African focus on renewable energy is that the electricity demand is outstripping grid supply, partly due to rapid economic growth.
“There are the diamond, agriculture and oil industries – all sectors that are expanding and need more energy,” Hankins explained.
“Various governments in East Africa realise that the