Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC on Thursday, July 31, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, made it clear that the United States, as a matter of policy, will not build infrastructure in Africa. She stated that the purpose of President Obama’s Summit was to reaffirm the U.S. partnership and friendship with Africa for 50 years, not give out billion dollar goodies. She said other countries can build infrastructure, but warned Africa to be cautious in their relations with other economic powers.
Without infrastructure there will be no economic development in Africa, which has the largest infrastructure deficit per capita and per square kilometer of any continent. The spreading lethal Ebola virus is itself a deadly marker of the failure to develop healthy economies in Africa. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is appropriately threatening to become the number one concern at the African Summit. Energy is crucial and indispensable for the development of any country, which is why President Obama’s signature policy–Power Africa–is such chicanery.
Africa Needs To Be Electrified
With 550 to 600 million sub-Saharan Africans having no access to electricity–over 50% of the population living in the dark, President Obama’s Powerless Africa program is either an outright fraud, a cruel joke, or someone doesn’t know how to simply add and divide. The idea that generating a mere 8-10,000 megawatts of electrical power over five years, divided among six countries–Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya–which at best is expected to provide electricity to 20 million additional users, will not double the access to electricity of Africa’s existing 400-450 million low-watt-per- capita energy users, as Obama falsely claimed twice when speaking in South Africa in 2013 and his administration has repeated ever since.
Sub-Saharan Africa generates the least amount of electricity in the world and has the lowest amount of watts per capita as well. Globally, the world generates about 5,200 gigawatts (GW) of electricity. Sub-Saharan Africa consumes about 70,000 megawatts (MW), which gives the subcontinent less than 1.5% of the world’s total. Is it any wonder that it is called the Dark Continent? Even if we doubled or tripled Obama’s Powerless Africa program every five years, Africa would still be in the dark. One blogger estimated that if Africa’s total electrical power were shared equally, each household would be able to power one light bulb per day, per person, for 3.5 hours. Obama’s program would add 18 minutes to each light bulb.
Take the case of Nigeria. At best, Nigeria generates 4,000 MW of power, not counting several thousands more megawatts produced by costly household diesel generators, which doesn’t alter the country’s massive energy deficit. With 177 million people, and at best 4,000 MW of power, Nigerians average less than 25 watts of energy per capita, and some estimates are low as 12 watts per capita. For Nigeria to enjoy the American standard of energy consumption of 1,400 watts per capita, which they deserve, Nigeria would require 248,000 MW or 248 GW–approximately 60 times its current power generation. In the next 20 years, Nigeria’s population is expected to increase to 250 million, thus requiring even more power. Obama’s Powerless Africa, if and when completed, will provide Nigeria with a mere 2,000 MW in 5 years.
For all of sub-Saharan Africa’s nearly 1 billion people to enjoy an American standard would require 1,400,000 MW or 1,400 GW of electrical power. This can only be accomplished with nuclear power, which is the most efficient, cost effective, and most powerful in terms of its energy-flux density. That is why South Africa’s commitment to build six nuclear power reactors with 9,600 MW of capacity is exciting for all of Africa. Presently South Africa, which has the highest energy per capita on the subcontinent, will be generating an equivalent amount of energy to Obama’s entire plan.
Africa’s total population (sub-Sahara and North Africa) is estimated at 1.2 billion, and expected to grow to 2.4 billion by 2040. According to current demographic trends, 29% or approximately 700 million of those 2.4 billion will be young people. Without a commitment to a massive increase in energy production/consumption now, the African continent will be unable to provide a future to their youth, and will become overwhelmed.
China’s present plan for exploration on the Moon for Helium-3, an advanced fuel for fusion power, shall lift humanity to the next level of necessary energy development.