Monday, September 26, 2011

Africa's Energy Future Heading Down a Dark Tunnel

Africa's Energy Future Heading Down a Dark Tunnel

A new blog by Terri Hathaway talks about the new declaration by the Conference of Energy Ministers in Africa – a two-year old institution recognized by the African Union and donors as the official voice of Africa's energy future – which she says "can fairly be called double-speak. The first half of the declaration is so great, it could have been written by a Nelson Mandela of energy. It outlines the brutal reality of Africa's energy poverty and the goals for universal access to sustainable energy across Africa by 2030." 

So why, Terri asks,  are the energy ministers "calling for projects set to benefit one of the world's wealthiest corporations rather than the continent's own citizens? At the top of the plan's $19 billion list of 14 "Priority Projects" is Inga 3, a hydropower mega-project that would power a massive aluminum smelter to be built by BHP Billiton . Also included are the second phase of the notoriously corrupt Lesotho Highlands Water Project (not really an energy project at all, unless you count that a lot of its water will be used to cool dirty coal plants in South Africa), and the contentious Mphanda Nkuwa mega-dam in Mozambique, a country where three times more electricity is consumed by a BHP Billiton aluminum smelter than by Mozambicans. Billions more dollars on this list are allocated to long-distance power lines that will literally pass over thousands of African villages that will likely have to wait decades to be electrified. 

Read Terri's full blog on why this plan is flawed, and what needs to happen to ensure real pro-poor energy planning takes place in Africa:

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