Regional Electricity Interconnection and Market Integration in Africa is Taking Huge Strides Forward
To meet the increasing demand of electricity in Africa, which is expected to triple by 2040, there is a need for an interconnection between the African countries and between the continent’s five power pools. The second annual report on ‘European financial flows on SDG7 to Africa’, commissioned by the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), shows that much progress is already being made but there is still a need for improvement in transmission and distribution infrastructure along with adding new variable renewable energy (solar and wind) generation capacity that has the greatest capacity to bring the most affordable electric power to the largest number of people.
To secure sufficient energy supply, in 2019/2018, African energy ministers authorised the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and its Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) to lead the creation of one of the largest electricity markets in the world, the African Single Electricity Market (AfSEM) under the Continental Power System Master Plan (CMP) for electricity generation and transmission. The work is being supported by the EU-GTAF, IAEA, and IRENA.
The CMP is the masterplan for Africa’s green vision, creating one grid for one continent with two broad drivers used to construct main CMP planning scenarios: universal electricity access and sustainable economic development within the context of achieving SDG7 by 2030. Within CMP, the intention is to establish a regional electricity market and integrate regional electricity generation and transmission infrastructure through interconnected grid networks.
The North-South, West, and Central Africa power-transmission corridors are among the numerous power-transmission corridors that are being gradually built out to encompass most of Africa. The MOMA Transmission Interconnector between Mozambique and Malawi and the ZTK Transmission Interconnector between Zambia, Tanzania, and Kenya are significant projects in the North-South route. The West Africa power transmission corridor, which would encompass the North Core Interconnection and numerous other regional initiatives, is also being expanded to incorporate new interconnectors.
Through the Global Gateway Investment Package, the European Union has pledged to support the African partners with funding as well as technical assistance for AfSEM and developing the CMP to connect the five power pools. Three examples of ongoing transmission projects, supported by the EU, are:
– 200 km transmission interconnection project to connect Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation’s network to that of the future Congolese National Electricity Company
– The 400 kV Zambia-Tanzania interconnection which is part of the wider Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya (ZTK) scheme intended to link the East African Power Pool (EAPP) and SAPP countries and
– The Angola-Namibia (ANNA) interconnection, which is part of the Central African Interconnection Corridor
The next steps for the work on AfSEM and CMP will be discussed during the African Union’s Specialised Technical Committee meeting on Transport, Infrastructure, Intercontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism in Zanzibar in September 2023.
Find more information about European support for an interconnected Africa in the AEEP’s latest European Financial Flows on SDG7 to Africa – 2022 Report