Address by the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, at the 2010 African Science Academy Development Initiative conference, Lord Charles Hotel, Somerset West
9 Nov 2010
Chair of the African Science Academy Development Initiative Board (ASADI), Dr Queta Bond
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology, South Africa, Dr Nqaba Ngcobo
President, Academy of Science of South Africa, Professor Robin Crewe
Presidents of Science Academies of Africa
Ladies and gentlemen
Science Academies are important institutions due to the potential role they can play in advancing scientific and technological development in our countries. Most successful science and technology systems have well established effective and competent Science Academies. We in Africa need to ensure we provide support and resources to our academies so they can also assist Africa science excellence.
Today ASADI is hosting its sixth conference, a clear sign of the value we all attach to the exchange of information among African science academies. The most important test for all of us, however is the need to assess the degree to which academies contribute to policy and action in Africa.
This conference will provide an opportunity to discuss strategies on improving energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, and explore the potential for African academies of science to provide additional support to national policy formation in this area.
The conference coincides with the release of a publication called "Turning science on: Improving access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa". It was produced by the Academy of Science of South Africa in consultation with the academies of Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The publication reflects on the status of energy access in each of the contributing countries, identifies barriers to improving energy access, and suggests science-based solutions and interventions.
In contrast to the starkness of the findings in the publication, the four “key messages to policy makers” are profound and compelling. With this publication as your launch pad, this conference will certainly be more able to improve the synergy between scientific research and policy implementation.
On the one hand, delegates will be able to learn much from site visits to nuclear energy generation facilities like Koeberg, and on the other, a visit to the Kuyasa informal settlement in Khayelitsha.
The Kuyasa Clean Development Mechanism Project provides solar water heaters, insulating ceiling boards, and energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs to low-income households in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. This project was awarded the Gold Standard for projects with exceptional high social benefits by the global Gold Standard Foundation.
The findings in the ASADI report corroborate and validate findings in other studies. The World Energy Outlook 2010 report indicates that about 1,4 billion people around the world lack access to electricity, about 20% of the world's population.
In sub-Saharan African only 30% (about 285 million) of people have access to electricity. This is the lowest figure in the world, despite that fact that Africa has significant oil, gas, coal, hydro and renewable energy resources.
Furthermore, more than 90% of the populations of countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Uganda have no access to electricity.
However, this challenge is not unique to the African continent. There are millions of households in other parts of the developing world that do not have access to modern, affordable, clean, reliable and safe energy services. High prices are often paid for poor-quality substitutes.
To give a clearer picture, about 40% of the global population, or 2,7 billion individuals, still rely on the traditional use of plant biomass or wood for cooking and for other household chores.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 80% of the total population rely on plant biomass or wood for cooking.
About 1,45 million people die prematurely each year from household air pollution due to combustion inefficiencies associated with the basic technologies used in biomass cooking.
What makes matters worse is that a significant number of these deaths are of young children.
This sort of statistic makes the issue of universal access to clean, safe energy no longer merely a moral issue but a matter of life and death.
Without access to energy individuals and communities are unable to lift themselves out of poverty. It is a primary determinant of access to social and economic development.
While there is much still to be done, our success in broadening access to energy since 1994 is one of the proudest achievements of South Africa's democratic government.
In 1993, only 30% of South African households had electricity, but in 2009 our household electrification rate stood at 75%.
While pursuing other clean and affordable energy sources, we are working very hard to ensure that all households have electricity.
In closing, I cannot emphasise too strongly the importance of the role our national academies can play in fostering the skills that will provide us with clean and affordable energy technologies. Furthermore, academies can advise governments on other energy related policies such as forestation for communities that use wood sources.
The tasks of broadening access to energy and developing new cleaner technologies and sources provide a set of critical research themes for our academies. Such studies should also focus on employment and business development opportunities in order to provide governments with a synthesis of proposals that respond to the various dimensions that make up the ‘Energy challenge’ in Africa.
I thank you.
Tel: 012 843 6802
Cell: 082 566 0446
Issued by: Department of Science and Technology
9 Nov 2010
[ Top ]