I really enjoyed working on this project, mostly because of the use of new technology to express ideas, and also because the topic is so close to my heart. I took a look at various forms of energy in different parts of Africa, their effects, and the future possibility of renewable energy use in West African countries.
Here are the most interesting (or troubling) things I realized while working on the project:
1. Africa's Energy Demand is expected to stay about the same, according to the EIA, over the next 17 years, or so. African population however, is expected to grow at a rate of about 3% (UN).
So for a growing population, Africans are expected to rely mostly on the same amount of energy, which can be interpreted to mean there will be no noticeable development in African countries over the next 17 years or so.
2. Situations differ from country to country, that is why I decided to look at West Africa. However, most of what is being done in the African renewables sector is in the southern and eastern regions. Meaning a lot can still be leveraged in West African Nations.
3. I am Nigerian, and this project sometimes relied on simple things that I know from growing up there. It was an eye opener for me to think about how many people had access to electricity; how many people had to spend money (up to thousands of dollars in some cases, believe it or not) on diesel or petroleum for electric generators, How expensive and scarce petroleum can get in an OPEC country, or how people rely on polluting and unhealthy sources of energy, like fire wood or kerosene for cooking, or kerosene for lamps.
4. It was disturbing that poor countries had to pay so much for energy. On 5/3/08; CNN reported that the people of Sierra Leone had the most expensive cost of gasoline in the world, ($18!). Eritrea, a smaller East African country was also on the list, paying more for a gallon of gasoline than the United States.
Beyond all these factors, reading the stories, and papers that discussed renewable technologies brought a new sense of hope to me. Africans are making little strides towards sustainable development. Thankfully, we have the resources (most except wind) to do so. I hope I get to be a part and see these changes in my lifetime.