BP Energy Outlook offers a mixed outlook for Africa

16113685827 c4bd45c077 zAccess to electricity will be critical for Africa's development in the coming decades. (Image Source: Clint Mason/Flickr)The latest edition of the BP Energy Outlook outlines the role of Africa in driving energy demand, including oil, gas and renewables

Access to energy remains a major challenge for Africa. More than a billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity, mainly in Africa, India, and developing countries in Asia, according to the report.

Looking ahead to 2035, the 2017 edition of BP's annual barometer of world energy markets forecasts GDP to double over the next 18 years. However, for Africa, this means the continent will account for almost half the projected increase in the global population but will contribute less than 10 per cent of the expected increase in GDP. This population increase is fuelling growing energy demand across Africa, particularly as multiple countries move towards greater urbanisation.

Growth in worldwide energy demand is projected to slow towards 2035, attributable to the stimulus from China and India fading. In simple terms, this implies that growth in global energy demand could slow to around 0.9 per cent per year in 2035-2050, compared with 1.3 per cent over the period covered by the report. But the report writers are cautious, noting that these figures assume continued relatively slow growth in Africa. If Africa's economy and energy demands grow more rapidly and if African productivity increases to come into line with India's over the past 10 years. Furthermore, the report notes that of these productivity gains are accompanied by increased industrialisation, energy growth beyond 2035 may not slow for Africa. 

Oil demand for Africa is at around 110Mb/d. There has also been a growth in gas supply, fuelled largely by the shale gas revolution in the US, with countries across Africa actively involved in exploration and, in some cases, production activities for the cleanest-burning of the fossil fuels. LNG supplies from Africa are also increasing. By 2035, it is expected that Africa will export 7Bcf/d of LNG.

As the world looks to move away from dependence on fossil fuels, there is a growing market for hydro power generation in Africa. Globally, hydro power is expected to grow at a rate of 1.8 per cent per year until 2035. In terms of renewables in general, such as solar and wind power, it is the EU and China leading the way. China is particularly noteworthy with the report forecasting it will add more renewables to the energy mix than the US and EU combined over the next 20 years. Renewables are becoming more attractive as costs fall and the efficiency of wind power improves.  

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