When it comes to electric power, Africa is still a continent in the dark. More than half of its 1.1 billion inhabitants lack access to electricity, and Africa’s total generating capacity, from Cairo to Cape Town, is only 160 gigawatts, or about half as much as Japan, a country with one-tenth of its population.
Against that backdrop, the plan unveiled this week by the African Union and African Development Bank is remarkably ambitious. Officials from the two organizations announced a goal of delivering at least 300 gigawatts—300 billion watts—of electricity-generating capacity to the continent by 2030, all from clean or renewable energy.
Africa’s in a really interesting situation, because, as a geopolitical region, it’s developing after all sorts of huge inventions have been made in other countries. More importantly, it’s developing after all sorts of mistakes have been made elsewhere – which means they have the chance to, for example, skip over building a stretched-out, overcomplicated, non-reactive power grid like the USA has and jump right to a next-gen smart grid. They can skip the copper-landline network and hop directly to fiber-optic and VOIP for phones and better data. I’m excited.