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Power Infrastructure Tracker in Northern Africa

North Africa power infrastructure requires significant investment to meet growing energy demand

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2014-01-09 02:36:04 - Power Infrastructure Tracker in Northern Africa - a new market research report on

Since early 2011, the year when the Arab spring protests began, instability in the region has remained high particularly in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya which has been detrimental to investment within the power sector. Today, signficant investment is required in North Africa´s power infrastructure in order to meet current demand for energy.

Regional grid integration remains marginal despite numerous initiatives, supported by the European Union, aiming to foster the development of a so-called Mediterranean power grid. Restricted financing, technical issues, inappropriate subsidies towards conventional energy, and inadequacies in regulatory frameworks are some of the main impediments constraining the development of the region´s power sector. Except Morocco, a resource-strained country which mainly uses coal, all Northern African countries strongly depend on natural



gas for electricity generation. This is expected to remain the case at least until 2020.

Nevertheless, each government has set up ambitious plans to develop its renewable energy potential, but concretisation of these plans will take time. Indeed, the renewable energy potential is deemed strong in the region with numerous feasibility studies confirming the abundant solar and wind potential. However, insufficient incentive schemes are currently constraining the development of renewable energy projects, despite some progress shown in the last five years.

Compared to sub-Saharan Africa, the level of electrification and electricity consumption per capita in North Africa is high. Electricity demand has continued to increase significantly in the last decade, however, there was a demand slowdown in 2011 due the revolutions and the consequent disruptions to economic activities. Sustained population growth, combined with improving living standards, implying the increasing usage of electrical appliances, has been the main factor driving the strong electricity demand growth in recent years. Power outages are recurrent during the summer months and some countries are trying to adopt various energy efficiency measures to alleviate the power supply-demand gap. Electricity prices and fossil fuel products have been heavily subsidised. A profound reform of each country´s system of fossil fuel subsidies is required to ensure long-term sustainability of the Northern African power sector.

North Africa has been the centre of strong political and social turmoil, which started in 2011 and was commonly called the Arab Spring protests. Since 1990, the region´s growth has not been sufficient to create quality jobs, especially for the youth. Wealth inequalities, job scarcity, and rising cost of living led to widespread social unrest, more particularly in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. The uprisings of 2011 and the consequent unstable political environment disrupted economic activities, predominantly in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. This tense economic situation was also exacerbated by the European economic downturn, as Europe is the main trading partner of the region.

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Mike King
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