Webb Meko believes that the impact of not having electricity far outweighs the cost of building new energy infrastructure.
Meko is the business development director at Black & Veatch Sub-Saharan Africa and adds that African governments need to accelerate efforts to unlock economic opportunities in industrialisation, agriculture and small business development.
The deployment of renewable energy continues globally, yet it is but one element of the solution. “Given more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are without access to reliable electricity, I don’t believe that renewable energy alone is the solution, we also need the continuation of base load power plants to collectively meet the growing power demand in Africa,” he says.
In his view developing more long-term programmes with a balanced energy mix, as envisaged in the South African draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), is the right path. “The IRP gives details for a balanced planning horizon, which enables people to make decisions on what to do. It contributes well to giving some level of stability into the direction South Africa’s government intends to go.”
He also believes that the IRP has been accused by some of trying to dictate the advancement of certain technologies at the expense of others, adding that there is a need for a threshold in terms of emissions and tariffs, while creating an environment enabling all technologies to compete for the same space in the market.
Meko says once all of the necessary fundamentals are realised, there will be an increased appetite for widescale investment in Africa.