Southern African Group Says It Can End Power Shortages by 2019

The Southern African Development Community, a group of 15 countries with 277 million people, said there are enough power generation projects underway to end electricity shortages by 2019.

Projects beginning in the next three to four years will bring the amount of capacity under construction in sub-Saharan Africa to 24,000 megawatts, or three times the current power shortfall, Remmy Makumbe, SADC’s director of infrastructure, told reporters Friday in Johannesburg.

“The region is facing a power shortage,” Makumbe said. “Given the projects that are on the go, we expect that we will be able to bridge that particular gap by 2018-2019.”

About 600 million people, or 70 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population, lack access to electricity, according to U.S. Aid, a government-backed development agency. The power deficit and poor reliability of supply reduce annual economic growth by 2.1 percentage points on average, the World Bank said.

SADC members have completed building almost 2,000 megawatts of generation since 2014, the organization said Friday in a statement. It will finish a further 2,763 megawatts in 2015. The power deficit in the region is 8,247 megawatts, it said.

Sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, produces about 28,000 megawatts of electricity, the same as Argentina, according to the World Bank.

Consumers pay more for power, with average tariffs at $0.13 a kilowatt-hour. That compares with $0.04 to $0.08 on average in most parts of the developing world, according to the bank.

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