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The AUF aims to establish the African Energy Organization to coordinate enery, planning, production, distribution, and consumption. The lack of an African energy policy means that the distribution of energy is poor because each community and state is planning on building energy sources without regard to cross-jurisidictional or transboundary issues.

For example one state with natural energy sources is unable to build an enviromentally safe power production plant for lack of funds, while another state with financial resources is unable to build a power plant for lack of natural resources. Uncertainty about short-term benefits may forestall the possibility of workable bilateral long-term agreements to share costs. An integrated energy administration will be better able to fund and manage major undertakings that require massive long-term investments.

Commercial energy consumption is growing in the African Union. Energy demand growth in the African Union averaged 2.7% annually from 1980 through 1997, and a slightly faster 3.1% annual average from 1990 through 1997.

Between 1970 and 1997, African commercial energy consumption (not including “non-commercial” fuels like firewood, charcoal and animal waste) increased about 220% (from 3.6 to 11.4 quadrillion British thermal units, or quads).

As a share of world commercial energy consumption, Africa has increased slightly, from 2% in 1970 to 3% in 1997.

Commercial energy consumption in the African Union is expected to remain approximately constant as a share of the world total (at about 3%) through 2020.

The African Union’s share of world commercial energy consumption is small for a variety of reasons, including low per capita incomes, levels of industrialization, ownership and usage of automobiles (around 20 cars per 1,000 people), and penetration of appliances like refrigerators, freezers, air conditioning, etc. In addition, the African Union also consumes large amounts of “non-commercial” energy.

There are several main reasons for the high use of “non-commercial” fuels in the African Union. First, the African Union’s enormous “commercial” energy resources are massively underdeveloped. Second, the African Union has poorly developed commercial energy infrastructure, including pipelines and electricity grids, to deliver commercial energy to customers. Third, widespread and severe poverty means that people cannot afford to pay for “conventional” energy resources, and must instead rely on biomass, etc. Lastly, trade is still constrained between the constituent states of the African Union.


Traditional and Commercial Energy Use