Clean EnergyTransitions in theGreater Horn of Africa

The future of Africa’s energy sector is important globally. The International Energy Agency (IEA) is actively supporting evidence-based energy policy making in African countries with the aim of achieving affordable and clean energy, in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7. This includes ensuring universal access for all, promoting increased energy security and affordability, and accelerating the development of clean energy systems across Africa, through a sustainable and accelerated regional energy system transformation.

Over the 2010s, the region has experienced major developments that are shaking up the energy sector, as oil and gas reserves have been discovered. Additionally, there have been significant efforts to improve substantially electricity access using on- and off-grid connections and systems. Yet, about 50% of the population still lives without electricity and 85% without clean cooking solutions.

Despite a recent increase in power generation capacity, which almost doubled between 2010 and 2020, and improved communication infrastructure, the region lags other developing regions in terms of adequacy and quality of its infrastructure. Regional key infrastructure systems (transport, energy, water and energy) rank low on the Africa infrastructure development index of the African Development Bank when compared with other regions of the continent. This exacerbates the effects of isolation and impedes trade and investment.

In the Africa Case, demand for energy in the buildings sector decreases by one-quarter by 2030, while demand for bioenergy decreases by one-third because of better access to clean cooking solutions and increased electrification. Similar to under STEPS, the energy consumption of the transport and industry sectors doubles under the Africa Case compared to today’s levels. The demand for transportation services is higher in the Africa Case than in STEPS, but energy consumption is lower. This underscores the consistent emphasis of the Africa Case on efficiency, as evidenced by policies limiting import of inefficient vehicles, such as higher excise taxes on used cars or enforcement of a maximum age limit for used car imports. Electricity use into the transport sector will be developed, representing 5% of the total final consumption, with the remainder being fossil fuels. The total final energy consumption of the industry sector will be mainly supported by increased use of modern bioenergy, electricity and fossil fuels.

Similar variations are observed in the greater Horn region. In 2019, 73% of Ethiopian women over the age of 15 years were employed, compared to 22% of Somali and 29% of Sudanese women. Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda have an almost equal gender balance in economy‐wide employment and a high women participation rate in manufacturing. Ethiopia rates best in the energy-related sector, and women represent almost two-thirds of employment in utilities.

High rates of participation should not conceal that women are more likely than men to work in the informal sector, thereby working in jobs that are usually less stable and with lower wages. This is due to women’s limited access to education, heir household and childcare responsibilities, and their concerns about safety, especially when commuting to work. When attempting to enter the workforce, including in the energy sector, women need to overcome many barriers such as gender stereotyping and bias, and lack of training, mentorship and networking. Although women are increasingly obtaining diplomas in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, their employment in the electricity sector has barely risen. Women with such qualifications and technical training therefore often end up working in unrelated fields, thus underutilising their skills.

Electricity access is improving, but keeping up with population growth is challenging About 40% of the sub-Saharan Africa population lives in the greater Horn of Africa. In 2020, half of them, or 150 million people, are without access to electricity14. Rates of access to electricity in the greater Horn have improved considerably since 2000. Then, one in ten people had access to electricity, whereas today, it is one in two, which is comparable to the sub-Saharan Africa average (excluding South Africa). An additional 90 million people have gained access to electricity between 2010 and 2020. This progress has mainly been driven by the two economic powerhouses in the region: Ethiopia and Kenya. Both these countries have made spectacular progress, raising the electrification rate by over 6 percentage points every year, and representing 80% of people gaining access during the same period.

Progress is insufficient as the number of people without access keeps increasing In the greater Horn region, nearly 250 million people rely on traditional cooking solutions, such as the use of wood and charcoal as cooking fuels. Access to clean cooking lags far behind access to electricity throughout the region. The share of the population with access to clean cooking systems has steadily increased from about 10% in 2010 to 15% in 2020. However, the number of people relying on traditional cooking solutions grew by 20% or about 50 million people during the same period due to population growth outpacing access gains. While no country experienced a reduction in the total number of people without access, around 1 million people shifted to modern fuel each year. In addition, six out of the eight countries managed to improve their overall access rate.

There are noticeable disparities among countries in the region. Sudan and Kenya in particular both increased their access rates by 20 and 10 percentage points, respectively, between 2010 and 2020. These two countries track above the sub-Saharan Africa average with 55% and 17% access rates, respectively, for clean cooking. All other countries of the region are trailing far behind with access rates of less than 10%. Uganda, a country with a population size comparable to that of Sudan has an access rate of less than 1%. Ethiopia has one of the largest populations without access, at above 110 million people, while Kenya and Uganda together account for 90 million people without access.

Urban access to clean cooking grew faster than rural access over the last two decades, outpacing the urbanisation rate from 2012 onwards. Improved biomass cookstoves are supporting the expansion of access in rural areas where distribution infrastructure for LPG does not yet exist.

In both scenarios, the relative use of oil in generation of power in the region decreases threefold by 2030. It is surpassed as the second most important energy source for power generation, and replaced by geothermal power in STEPS and by geothermal and solar in the Africa Case. The share of geothermal power is above 15% in STEPS and close to 20% in the Africa Case in the overall electricity generation mix. STEPS considers introducing coal based on the existing pipeline of projects in Kenya and Sudan, but with a share of less than 1%, whereas it is fully phased out in the Africa Case by 2030.

Installed capacity in the region grows about threefold in STEPS and fourfold in the Africa Case by 2030, while doubling across Africa as a whole. The greater Horn’s abundant hydroelectric potential makes it attractive for large-scale, uninterrupted, long-term, low-carbon electricity generation. Hydropower remains the most important source of renewable power generation, with additions of installed capacity of close to 17 GW in STEPS and 25 GW in the Africa Case.

This increase in debt has left six countries in the region either at high risk or in debt distress as of April 2022.24 High commodity prices, adding to the supply chain shortages already present at the end of 2021, are driving surging inflation and higher costs of living. Major economies have responded by increasing their interest rates. Countries with high levels of debt are therefore now facing a combination of rising debt service costs, worsened by a strengthening US dollar (which most public debt is denominated in), and surging bond yields.

This worsening macroeconomic environment reduces governments’ abilities to invest in their energy sector, and also reduces the appeal to private sector investors. High levels of country risk in the greater Horn already limit the involvement of private sector investors, who will be further concerned about the possibility of rising food and fuel prices triggering short-term social unrest in countries with ongoing conflicts or a recent history of instability.

The demand for titanium is expected to rise significantly, especially for clean energy technologies such as geothermal. Around 16 GW of geothermal capacities are located in geo-hotspots such as Iceland, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey and the United States, as well as Kenya. This technology, providing a low-carbon baseload, is set to increase significantly at the global level and in the greater Horn region. In IEA climate-driven scenarios, mineral demand from geothermal technologies grows more than seven times over the coming two decades, and geothermal power becomes a major source of demand for nickel, chromium, molybdenum and titanium. This could offer further opportunities for Kenya. It is a country with a well-established geothermal industry and ambitious plans to develop it, where annual production of titanium has reached 250-350 kt in recent years.

Eritrea Data for Eritrea are available starting in 1992. Prior to 1992, data are included in Ethiopia. At the time of preparation of the 2022 edition of the World Energy Statistics and Balances, no official data were available from Eritrea from 2019 to 2020 Official data were also not available for most products and flows for 2018. As a consequence, the statistics and balances for 2018 to 2019 have been mostly estimated based on data from the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD). Data for 2020 have been estimated based on population growth for biomass and household consumption, and GDP growth for other products. In the 2022 edition of the World Energy Statistics and Balances, most products and flows were revised from 2011 to 2017 based on new data provided by the Ministry of Energy and Mines.


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