Despite a large and rapidly growing population, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects electricity consumption in Africa to remain a relatively small share of global totals through 2050. Relatively low consumption, in part, results from the limited reach of central grid power in rural areas and the unreliability of central grid power in urban areas. Use of such options could shift Africa’s power generation mix away from the coal and natural gas currently used in the central grid toward a greater contribution by renewable resources to meet demand.

In a recent paper titled, “Off-grid electricity development in Africa: Uncertainties and Potential Implications for Electric Power Markets”, EIA identifies factors that could influence the development of mini-grid and other off-grid electricity generating technologies in Africa and demonstrates the effects of wide-scale deployment of these technologies on the total generation fuel mix. This analysis shows that off-grid generation has the potential to significantly shift the generation mix in Africa in the long term. If the estimated unserved electricity demand in Africa were satisfied exclusively by expanding the centralized grid, our analysis shows more growth in both coal- and natural gas-fired generation. If unserved demand were met instead by off-grid resources, it could shift the generation mix toward non-hydroelectric renewable generation sources.

Check out the report and presentation by EIA highlighting the key issues in focus analysis from International Energy Outlook 2020