According to the African Energy Outlook report published by the International Energy Agency, more than 620 million people live without electricity in Africa, two thirds of the population of a continent that paradoxically possesses 30 percent of all hydrocarbon fields discovered in the last five years.
Population and energy consumption growth are the two issues that the IEA considers key to the future of Africa, where severely underdeveloped countries border others that are pushing ahead. African Energy Outlook speaks of a population that is set to double by 2040, while energy consumption is set to grow 80 percent in the same period. Coal reserves will increase, as will gas production – reaching 230 billion cubic metres – gas exports and oil demand. Growing local and foreign investment and policies implemented by a number of countries mean that generation capacity will have to keep up, and according to the IEA it could quadruple, with green energy accounting for up to 45 percent of production.
The Enel Group sees Africa as an incubator for new technologies and a market whose poor infrastructure can be turned into an opportunity to develop a sustainable, advanced and efficient electricity system. Enel CEO Francesco Starace spoke about this issue at the Italy-Africa: Working Together for a Sustainable Energy Future conference held in Rome over 13-14 October, while a number of projects and initiatives are testament to the Group's commitment to the continent. These include participation in Res4Med, the PV solar and wind power plants in South Africa and the combined cycle thermal power plant in Morocco, as well as tenders in which the Group is taking part and its growth prospects in new markets from now to 2018 described in the Business Plan.
Enel's commitment to access to electricity is the other great pillar of the Group's presence in Africa. Its Enabling Electricity programme includes projects in Congo, cutting-edge innovations like the Triangle-based Omni-purpose Building (TOB) that bring electricity to isolated areas, and partnerships with bodies like the World Food Programme. In the wake of the experience it has gained in nine Latin American countries, the Group is also set to extend the energy access project it developed with the NGO Barefoot College, which trains women from rural areas to install and maintain the solar PV panels, bringing electricity to their villages.