Energy insecurity: an African problem?

What is the first thing that ponders your thoughts when you hear the word ‘energy insecurity’? Perhaps, a sudden flashback from school in your environmental class, when your teacher first introduced the notion of renewable and non-renewable energy sources? Or rather, a strong firm grip on the words: re-use and recycle? Whatever the case may be, I am here to introduce to you the term ‘Energy insecurity’.

By: Debby Jessica N. Ndjadila

According to Hernandez (2016), energy insecurity is expressed as the inability to adequately meet basic household energy needs. Turkish Economist and Energy Expert, Fatih Birol once said and I quote, ‘Energy insecurity is a pre-requisite for a nation’s successful economic development.’ But, how can we have a successful economic development in Africa if the world’s energy insecurity is currently under threat?

‘Under threat?’ you may gasp! Yes you heard right! The main underlying issue in today’s society is scarcity. Scarcity is often described as having limited resources in the face of unlimited needs and wants. In simple words, there is only a small fraction of resources to fully meet the growing demands of the population. Think of it like this, you walk happily into your local grocery store to get a full carton of 2 litre milk; only to be sadly greeted by the cashier who informs you that milk will only be available in the next two month or so if you are lucky! The same way that milk was scarce in this scenario, is the same way that natural resources such as gold, diamonds and oil are becoming scarce; to the point of being unable to meet current consumer demands.

But why are scarce resources a threat to the world and how does it affect the continent of Africa? In general scarce resources are non-renewable, meaning once they are used up, it would take over a thousand years before they replenish. If we continue to use up these scarce resources, it means that our future generation may not possibly have access to these resources any longer.

'This is not an African problem, it is a global problem!'

Developed nations around the world depend on the continent of Africa due to its abundant natural resources. It is a no-brainer that over 60% of the world’s natural resources comes from Africa alone! Countries such as Namibia, are known as the fifth largest producer of uranium in the world, while South Africa is the largest exporter of gold and diamonds and Nigeria is known for its massive oil production and other related petroleum products. Unfortunately, only 30% of the world’s remaining natural resources are available in Africa. A very alarming percentage indeed, which proves that the world’s natural resources is seriously under threat! This is not an African problem, it is a global problem!

The good news remains that, various governments and ministries across Africa have produced energy policies, in an attempt to protect the remaining natural resources. These policies go beyond as 2050, and are in accordance with the International World Energy Council (WEC). The policy of high government and regional engagement in Africa, ascertains and encourages renewable energy mix generation, in order to promote security in energy supply. The policies are revised and renewed every 5 years to ensure that, long term government and regional participation is effective across the entire continent and the world at large.

'..let us all preserve our natural resources. Be the change you want to see!'

However this is not something that can be simply fixed by our leaders, they can not do this alone! Ordinary citizens across the world, I mean people like you and I can also pitch in to save the earth’s natural resources. From educating ourselves and other people around us to value the importance of our natural resources, to using alternative sustainable resources that are less damaging to the environment and lastly following the 3 R’s: re-use, reduce and recycle. It starts with us, let us all preserve our natural resources. Be the change you want to see!

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