As globalisation, urbanisation and population increases, justifications can now be made for the inevitable rise in energy demand over the next decades to come, especially in Africa which has the youngest growing population across the world.
Energy is very essential commodity today, as the social-economic development of any nation is directly dependent on its capacity to match the energy demand required for growth, therefore we can affirm solving the energy crisis in Africa where an average of 60% lack electricity supply is a prerequisite for sustainable development in a region that is largely underdeveloped.
However, although Africa has lagged tremendously in her energy generation and distribution capacity within the first two decades of the 21st century; herein, also lie the opportunities for us to do better and differently moving forward in terms of our approach and structure.
This opportunity has been presented to us in form of the 4th industrial revolution which is presently transforming our world as we knew it through rapid real time digitisation, communication and interconnectedness cutting across every sector. With the emergence of industry 4.0 occurring simultaneously with growing environment consciousness and rise in social-economic issues across the continent, the energy sector which emits 78% of the green house gas causing global warming from burning of fossil fuel is now faced with the challenged of transforming its business as usual models to sustainable ones.
Going back to the Roots.
At the inventive stage of electricity during the 2nd industrial revolution energy production was mainly decentralised but became centralised as time went by due to efficiency and economic concerns at the time. However the emergence of industry 4.0 which bring with it stronger security, realtime data processing & communication and artificial intelligence, its now time for the energy industry to revisit its roots but rather this timing adopting a more sustainable approach as the emergence of industry 4.0 tackles a lot of reliability issues. For Africa, where a huge percentage of the region still lacks access to clean power, this is practically the most favourable time for growth to be enforced, as we are opportune to adopt future innovations and develop policies that will ensure technological adaptability and sustainable development.
Adopting Modern Technology and Business Models
With high increase in energy system complexity due to the adoption of new energy generation sources by independent producers, it is essential these new solutions are developed in ways they can augment for the fluctuations that will occur during this transition phase over the next 10 -15years.
This energy transition will require new buildings and infrastructures both consumers and prosumers to manage their usage intelligently with the ability to determine energy demands, the mix of energy required to meet the need at that particular time and for how long. Application of intelligent agents will optimise demand and redundancy within the systems in turn saving cost and increase transparency as continuous real-time data acquisition and communication with the grid is a necessity for the system to be truly classified as smart.
Finally, the power of digitisation and realtime processing gives us the opportunity to connect the energy generation and consumption ecosystems; through the adoption of cutting edge technology such as Distributed Energy solutions, intelligent storage systems,A.I, machine learning and blockchain the future of energy promises to be more flexible, secure, cleaner and most importantly have a sustainable impact for generations to come.