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China-Africa seek common ground on energy development

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

09-14-2015 16:49 BJT

By CNTV Commentator Tom McGregor

Africa looms large as a continent rich in natural resources with a surging youth population. The continent is laying the groundwork for an economic boom for the years and decades to come. Nevertheless, much of sub-Saharan Africa remains woefully under-developed with over 600 million residents living under dire poverty.

Most Africans cannot enjoy greater prosperity until the region boosts its infrastructure and builds more power plants. Hence, China's government along with Chinese companies, investors and its labor force are helping to turn on the lights for the continent.

On Oct. 15-16, Beijing will host the 4th Annual China-Africa Infrastructure and Power Forum, where African Energy Ministers from – Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Uganda - are scheduled to attend.

Overcoming the energy deficit

Africa must address its infrastructure and energy concerns. BusinessGhana reports that approximately 48 percent of all Africans do not have access to electricity. Insufficient refining capacity, especially in East Africa, appears to be a key stumbling block.

"Yet by exporting most of its oil to refine it elsewhere, including for eventual domestic consumption, the continent has long missed out on a huge opportunity for economic transformation," according to the Washington D.C.-based think tank, Brookings Institution.

The African economy is expanding at a brisk pace with a stronger manufacturing base and urbanization drive. But the continent struggles with an astonishing energy deficit at 87 percent, the highest in the world. Not enough power plants are operational in the region.

Nuke power for Africans

Africans lack quality-access to vital infrastructure, such as reliable roads and railways. The minimal number of power plants cannot alleviate frequent and widespread electricity blackouts. Therefore, governments in Africa are moving forward to construct more nuclear power plants.

Presently, only South Africa has nuke plants in operation. However, the Kenyan government has signed a cooperation deal with Beijing to build a nuclear power plant, according to a press release from the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board.

Nairobi has approved an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Beijing to launch the initial stages for a 1,000MW capacity power station scheduled for completion by 2025 and another 4,000MW unit to open in 2033.

The Chinese side has pledged to provide training of skills development, technical assistance in areas such as site selection and feasibility studies.

Uncovering new oil & gas reserves

Africa must wait many years before nuclear power generates sufficient electricity for the continent. Tapping into fossil fuels will be the most reliable energy resources for them. The good news is that geologists have discovered vast oil and gas reserves in Kenya and Uganda.

Scientific American quotes John Muchiri, energy consultant based in Nairobi, as saying that, "Kenya is in the first stage of oil exploration and needs more funding at this stage."

Meanwhile, the IEA (International Energy Association) said Uganda holds East Africa's largest reserves; and oil & gas developers have invested over $US3bn in the country’s oil fields in the Albertine Rift, according to Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

The China National Offshore Corp. (CNOC) has also secured $US3bn government contract to develop Kingfisher oil fields in northwestern Uganda that is estimated to hold 635m/b (million barrels) of oil with 200m/b recoverable.

China-Africa connect for energy riches

Africa offers plenty of potential for China to create a long-lasting and prosperous partnership. China has the second world’s largest economy and is the global leader for energy consumption. Sub-Saharan Africa can export its abundant natural resources to Asia's biggest country.

Nonetheless, Africa must seriously upgrade its infrastructure and energy grid if the continent intends to become a more reliable trading partner for China and the rest of the world. Fortunately, Chinese companies have already made major investments in the continent and they are building a stronger Africa for the economic benefit of all.

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

 

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