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Michel Derdevet : “The electrification of Africa is vital in the fight against climate change and in containing migratory flows”

Secretary-general of Enedis and founder member of IPEMED Michel Derdevet remains upbeat about improving access to electricity in Africa, despite current shortcomings and disparities.



           

Secretary-general of Enedis and founder member of IPEMED Michel Derdevet remains upbeat about improving access to electricity in Africa, despite current shortcomings and disparities. Version française



Michel Derdevet : “The electrification of Africa is vital in the fight against climate change and in containing migratory flows”

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Healthy competition

Is the competition on the continent between the different industry stakeholders healthy?

M.D.: The electrification of Africa is a major industrial challenge to which the European power distribution sector - with its leading international companies- can make a contribution. But, above all, we first need to properly determine the expectations of the African states and clients in order to best adapt our service and training offers.
 
More generally, the electrification of Africa is vital in the fight against climate change and in containing any resulting migratory flows. African countries know they are a growth market for the future, and they are quite right. Consequently, they have been putting European distribution companies in competition with their Chinese counterparts for a number of years. This is healthy. It’s up to the Europeans to show that their solutions are better in terms of quality and competitiveness. But we could well foresee, in time, a three-way arrangement between Africa, Europe and China to put in place a joint industrial strategy that would allow us to resolve, finally, the needs and challenge of bringing electricity to the whole of the African continent.

(photo : Enedis Guillaume Murat)
(photo : Enedis Guillaume Murat)
econostrum.info: How is improving access to electricity in Africa progressing?
 
Michel Derdevet: It’s on the right track! In 2017, the number of people without access to electricity in Africa dropped below the million mark, which is a huge improvement and a powerful symbol. However, this figure hides considerable disparities. Today, 57% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa still does not have access to electricity despite significant efforts over the past few years (for example, in Kenya the percentage has risen from 8% in 2000 to 73% today and in Ethiopia from 5% to 45%). In 15 of the countries in the region, less than 25% of households have access to electricity!
 
All this has real economic consequences. The UNCTAD estimates that 40% of businesses are suffering because of a poor, unreliable and unaffordable electricity supply, with up to 10 blackouts of up to five hours each month reducing turnover by an estimated 7%.
 
What solutions exist to improve electricity supply in Africa?

M.D.: Today, 71% of urban households in Africa have access to electricity compared to only 22% in rural areas. The African Progress Panel estimates that only 30% of needs in these rural areas can be addressed through connection to the power grid. For the remaining areas, including those hard to reach, the fall in the cost of photovoltaic production and storage means that the solution will mainly come from domestic solar panel installations or isolated micro-grids.
 
Nevertheless, a faster, efficacious and high-quality electrification of the African continent benefiting all its populations cannot succeed without a grid and without cooperation between regions and between African states. Proper investment planning for an electricity distribution network needs to be put in place together with a professionalization of the industry.


By Frédéric Dubessy


Monday, November 19th 2018



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