Contemporary Crises

Exploring modern societal challenges

In Search of Sustainable Energy in Africa – from Science to Management and Policy Perspectives

As we know, Africa’s national development is endowed with energy resources: oil, natural gas, electricity, coal, hydro, solar, wind and biomass, but they are not evenly distributed. According to UN Environment Programme, energy consumption in Africa is the lowest in the world, IEA estimates 290 million out of 915 million Sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity, whilst 80% of that population still relies on sold biomass for cooking. Energy is thus central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity Africa faces today. Which begs the question, how is Africa going to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal #7 of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all? Sustainability as defined by the Bruntland Report has an ideological dimension of the common good. We live in an era of “using resources to meet the needs of humanity in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development).

If you want to understand and fundamentally change how Africa uses energy, values its natural environments, or combats climate change, you have to bring multiple perspectives to the debate of energy, an uncommon idea prior to this book. Energy policies and management are of primary importance to achieve the development of sustainability. That’s what we have done in this book. The diverse topics covered by the book involve interdisciplinary contributions from various scholars and practitioners on these issues to arrive at optimum solutions and recommendations to help Africa’s shortage of energy. Another issue is affordability and funding renewable energy in Africa. This book provided some management and policy insights and the need for collaborative partnership.

In our book, we explore the effects of protectionism and nationalism on the 21st century Africa energy policy (chapter 2). In collaboration with the Makeree University and Cambridge University, the cooperative solar technology is making wave in Uganda as researched in this book (Chapter 4). Energy and sustainability have been discussed in different market perspectives of oil, gas, electricity, and clean technology from the lens of stakeholders’ engagement in the case of contaminated land management in Niger Delta, to the role of regulator and sustainability on electric market. The book provides exposition on the recent development of affordability and cost in SSA. Our conclusion on energy from a management perspective was premised on whether it is possible to have multiple perspectives on energy management to inform policy and practice. Whilst there were rich contributions on policy, country differences, the book has identified gaps between science and social science on energy, particularly linking energy research and management and international business. Our emphasis on sustainability is pinned down to future trends and development on fostering national, regional and international cooperation. Throughout our chapters, we see examples of how management, policies and sustainability can be practised or not in the energy sector.

Our book’s conclusion on sustainability follows this. The energy projection has a wide range of environmental and societal implications, both in terms of local impacts in Africa and the much broader issue of global climate change. The linkage between energy research and management can further advance our understanding of the influence of corporate sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility adoption of clean energy and the thematic area of renewable energy. The diverse issues are important factors for policy makers to monitor and tackle, and often require ongoing social and corporate engagement with a number of stakeholders of the use of land by energy MNEs. The Niger Delta contaminated land case study provides huge opportunity for other countries to develop their energy resources in a sustainable manner. This is an opportunity for research development in the future. The issue of affordability and cost of technologies are vital questions worthy of further analysis if energy in Africa is to achieve sustainability.

Sola Adesola is a Senior Lecturer in the Oxford Brookes Business School at Oxford Brookes University. She specialises in International Organisations, Corporate & Business Law and International Markets & Competition. Her research focuses on energy policy, entrepreneurship and university interactions. 

Feargal Brennan is Director of the Offshore Engineering Institute at the University of Strathclyde having previously held senior positions at Cranfield University and University College London. Feargal is a leading authority on the integrity of offshore Oil & Gas structures and development of offshore renewables including wind, wave, and tidal stream.