Africa: Growing in Importance in Global Energy Trade - Global Trade Magazine
  March 15th, 2018 | Written by

Africa: Growing in Importance in Global Energy Trade

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  • Africa’s increasing population and a pick-up in productivity contribute to the growth in energy demand.
  • Africa’s urbanization will facilitate increased levels of industrialization and prosperity.
  • Africa will account for around one-fifth of total energy demand growth between 2035 and 2040.

Africa will plays an increasing role in driving global energy demand by the mid-2030s. In fact, according to the recently-released BP Energy Outlook 2018, the continent will contribute more to global demand growth than China.

BP projects the global trend towards urbanization to continue, with much of that urbanization occurring in Africa. Six-hundred million additional people will be living in African urban centers by 2040, according to the report, around 30 percent of the two billion additional urbanites across the globe.

Africa’s increasing population and a pick-up in productivity contribute to its growth in energy demand.

“The impact on Africa’s energy consumption and intensity depends on the extent to which this urbanization facilitates increased levels of industrialization and prosperity,” said the report. Africa will account for around one-fifth of total energy demand growth between 2035 and 2040, according to the report.

Africa’s increasing consumption of energy means that its role as an energy exporter will diminish. “A sharp reduction in the oil surplus is only partially offset by higher net exports of natural gas,” the report concluded.

Africa’s growing energy consumption will be fueled by its economic development which will be increasingly based on industrialization and higher levels of productivity. The industrial share of energy will rise in Africa as the level of industrialization picks up.

Within the developing world as a whole, electricity consumption will grow strongly, with nearly 70 percent of the increase in primary energy used for power generation, and power demand growing three times quicker than other energy.

“But the quickening pace of efficiency gains in the final use of electricity means that the relationship between economic growth and electricity consumption weakens” through 2040, said the report, “with this weakening particularly pronounced in the” developed world.

The mix of fuels used in power generation is shifting, as renewable energy continues to gain in importance. Renewables will account for half of the increase in power and renewables’ share of total power generation increases from seven percent today to 25 percent by 2040. Coal loses out in this scenario, accounting for 13 percent of the increase in power through 2040, versus over 40 percent in the previous 25 years. But with a 30-percent share, coal will remain the largest source of energy for power in 2040. Natural gas’s share is projected to remain flat at a little over 20 percent through 2040, after rising gradually over much of the past 25 years.


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