Electricity consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2021 was predominantly fuelled by fossil-based energy sources. More than half, or about 64% of the total energy mix, came from fossil fuels. Out of this proportion, the majority came from coal which accounted for nearly 45%, gas representing just over 10%, and a minute percentage from oil. However, not all was bleak in terms of sustainable power with low-carbon energy, accounting for almost 35% of the energy mix. This consisted of hydroelectric power at close to 27%, wind and solar both over 2%, nuclear energy very slightly behind at about 2%, and geothermal and biofuels together accounting for almost 2%. Despite the bias towards fossils, Sub-Saharan Africa was a net exporter of electricity in 2021.
In the journey towards increased low-carbon energy generation, Sub-Saharan Africa can learn valuable lessons from several countries that have made major leaps in this domain. The region could look towards France, Ukraine, and Slovakia, as these nations notably source a majority of their electricity from nuclear power. Additionally, wind energy has propelled countries like Denmark and Ireland to significant strides in low-carbon electricity generation. In more comparable climates, Chile, Yemen, and Jordan provide inspiration within the domain of solar energy, each contributing upwards of 16% of electricity from solar power. By employing some of these strategies, Sub-Saharan Africa can diversify its energy mix while lowering its carbon footprint.
Historically, the application of low-carbon electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa has shown mixed results. In the span between 2013 to 2021, hydroelectric power has been a mainstay, with incremental growth seen each year, discounting a slight dip in 2015. Solar and wind have also observed gradual increases, albeit in smaller numbers. Nuclear energy in the region has had a turbulent journey: 2016 saw an increase of 4.1 terawatt-hours (TWh) only to decline by 2.6 TWh just two years later in 2018. In most recent years, 2021 signaled a significant drop in nuclear generation by 3.5 TWh. Despite these setbacks, the overall trend suggests a steady move towards a more sustainable, low-carbon energy strategy in the region.