Energy, Environment and Socio-Economic Development: Africa’s Triple Challenge and Options
Divine Odame Appiah (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana) and Francis Kemausuor (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana)
Copyright © 2012.
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This chapter espouses the spatial relationships between energy, environment and socio-economic development, as some of the main challenges African countries are grappling with. Energy is the main driver of all forms of socio-economic activities occurring within the human space over time. In Africa, however, low access to energy has, to a greater extent, hampered the socio-economic development of the continent. Although the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) do not specifically stipulate on any energy target, the realization of all the goals stands threatened if households, commercial and industrial activities do not get the rightful access in terms of availability and affordability to energy systems, including their appropriate conversion technologies. The authors explore the dynamics of energy, socio-economic development and environmental sustainability in a nexus of the triple challenges facing Africa, from different African scenarios. In Africa, the obstacles opposing the continent’s bid to expand the energy frontiers from the traditional sources of wood and fossil fuels into other second and third generation energy forms have been constructed in the areas of intense competition for arable lands for food crops and feed stocks cultivation. Suffice to say that increasing population densities, food shortages and insecurity and malnutrition with associated diseases have culminated into acute forms of poverty in recent years in Africa; the problems have been aggravated by the wanton degradation of the environmental resource base and the over-dependence of particular energy mix at both the rural and the urban settings. The above disposition therefore, militates greatly against the socio-economic efforts of most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. From a systemic perspective, the energy sector which drives almost every sub-sector of the broader socio-economic activity needs to factor the environmental consequences of extraction and use, with the attending impacts of climate variability and change in a vicious cycle of sustainability.