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Energy Transitions

Further electricity generation is needed in the Sahel to better place the region on a low-carbon development pathway

There is a seemingly direct relationship between the production of electricity and development. In the Sahel, the amount of electricity generated and the penetration of that electricity is increasing, but not fast enough to match demand nor in a manner that sets the region on course for a low carbon development pathway. Every ten years, the amount of renewable electricity is doubling, but the amount of fossil fuel generation is quadrupling. As a result, the percentage of renewable energy in the energy mix is diminishing, and Sahelian states remain dependent on fossil fuel–generated electricity for 75 per cent of their needs.

Source: This graphic was developed by OAM Consult based on data by the World Bank, 2021.

Currently, Sahel countries are following the traditional carbon-intensive method of development, insofar as their GDP growth is occurring in line with growth in carbon emissions. To begin the decoupling process, a wide range of interventions are needed, from intensifying climate-smart agriculture and furthering the structural evolution of the economy towards industry and services, to speeding up the energy transition process by switching to cleaner fuels and improving efficiency. Whether or not the Sahel will be able to begin the decoupling process depends on the level of ambition of the region and the support it receives.

To get ahead of the increase in demand and to outpace growth in fossil fuel energy, investments in renewables will need to expand. This expansion can occur with both on-grid and off-grid electricity, but both need to go to scale to reduce cost and improve reliability, especially around built-up areas such as cities. The region additionally shows potential for the exploitation of civil nuclear energy as a regional, multi-country approach, allowing the diversification of energy sources, the creation of high-skilled jobs and potential for a technological catch up.

Date - 12 May - 2023

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