Energy for Growth Hub
Op-Eds Jun 19, 2023 Rose Mutiso, Michael Dioha

Generating Meaningful Energy Systems Models for Africa

Bringing expertise, data, and model development “home” to African countries is interrelated and mutually reinforcing with achieving electrification, development, and climate goals on the continent.
Better Metrics and Data
Shaping Energy Transitions

Originally published in Issues in Science and Technology, June 19, 2023.

About 77% of the 770 million people living without access to electricity today reside in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Increasing access to energy in the region could raise prospects for the 431 million residents there who live in poverty, while also advancing global climate goals. But the process of electrification has been hobbled by lack of data and one-size-fits-all energy system models that do not adequately reflect SSA’s reality. Global institutions, as well as African governments, must begin to invest in the creation of national and regional energy models, data collection, and local expertise.

Most of the energy models applied to Africa are built and run by analysts in industrialized countries. As a result, the input of African analysts and local data can be limited, which results in poorly informed assumptions. For example, in 2015, the International Energy Agency (IEA) energy balance showed that Nigeria’s household electricity consumption was 14 TWh. However, using Nigeria-specific data, a bottom-up energy modeling study conducted by Nigerian analysts in collaboration with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) showed that Nigeria’s household electricity consumption in 2015 was 43 TWh. The estimate tripled because the IEA didn’t adequately capture how many households had diesel and gasoline generators to back up the unreliable grid. Energy models contain many implicit assumptions, some of which—like gross domestic product (GDP), as we discuss below—are biased toward the expectations and priorities of industrialized countries, making them inappropriate for the SSA context.

Read the full article here.