Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Angola's Resurging Power Grid

Approximately 77% of Angola's power supply is generated by hydropower: the remaining is diesel generated. With numerous powerful rivers crossing the country, Angola has tremendous potential for generating electricity with an estimated hydropower potential of 150 000 GWh/year, of which about 65 000 GWh/year is considered to be firm potential. With 10 hydro plants constructed in Angola, the power industry is making progress in rehabilitation after years of wars and neglect; several dams are still out of service following damage sustained during the civil war.
Despite the rapid expansion of capacity, Angola's internal electricity grid is weak and poorly integrated, with much power lost in transmission. Power outages are common, worsened by poor maintenance and below-cost tariff structures. Less than 20% of Angola's population has access to electricity, with most depending on wood or charcoal. Around 75% of national electricity output is consumed in Luanda, but only around one-quarter of the city's residents have access to a regular power supply. Owing to power cuts, 68% of businesses are forced to rely on their own generators for power, the highest recorded rate in Africa. The  government is attempting to reduce this constraint on economic growth, and in April 2007 it announced plans to invest US$2bn in electricity infrastructure, with a focus on boosting output and extending the national grid. (Info adapted from Economist Intelligence Unit: Angola)

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