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The State and Future of Energy in Africa with Dr Toyosi Craig

Dr Toyosi Craig is a South Africa-based Nigerian Renewable Energy professional with years of experience in Energy Research and International Business Development.

He currently is the head of research and energy business development at Distributed Power Africa: a company that provides energy solutions to its customers with zero deposit. He focuses on project licencing, energy trading and technologies such as CSP, On-grid and Off-grid Solar PV, Batteries and Mini-hydro development.

He is incredibly passionate about the Energy industry, specifically with regards to African electrification – this is a cause he holds close to his heart.

You can join us in a live conversation with Dr Toyosi on July 15th.

Join our Facebook event page for the latest updates.

So, Dr Toyosi, what do you do?

I will soon be joining a new team called Block Power. Block power is involved in rolling out energy solutions in a unique way. It is client-based, where we sit down with you and develop a specific energy solution for you. The manufacturing plants are right here in South Africa.

For people who don’t know anything about energy in Africa, how would you describe the energy landscape here?

I’d explain it like this. There are three things involved in energy. These are generation, transmission, and distribution.

Generation is how energy is made. It could be from many sources, such as coal, nuclear or hydroelectric. In African countries, hydro-electric is the most common, though coal is also common, like in South Africa. Next is transmission, which is how you transmit energy after you make it. Those big wires you see coming from energy plants? They transmit the energy from those places across large distances.

Then, from where it is transmitted to, energy arrives at distributors. This can be Eco-electric, The City of Johannesburg, etc. From those distributors, it is sent to the final clients, which could be your home. Most transmissions systems in Africa, perhaps all, are in the hands of the government. The generation part has been privatised, or “opened up”. This means private entities can generate electricity, whether by coal, solar, wind etc, and if it’s large-scale you can sell it to government.

In the new era, we are entering into, we see “distributed power”, where you can generate and sell power directly to clients. This could mean installing systems on a client’s property, getting it licensed and selling power directly to them.

That’s part of why we and others are moving to renewable energy. It’s distributed, and you can put it anywhere. Solar can be done for most rural places where transmission lines don’t reach. You can put up what is called a “mini-grid”, which is a total system for electricity that stands alone, independent of the national grid.

Those are the ways, generally speaking, that you get energy to Africa.

What are Africa’s energy needs?

Africa’s case is totally different from Europe’s, so we can’t do a copy-and-paste method. Systems that work abroad won’t necessarily work here. Africa’s capacity is 100 gigawatts, which is like 1/3 of India’s. We are not there yet, but it’s something that has to be done. What people need to know is that we need to embrace distributed energy. In places far from the grid that require mini-grids, the government needs to allow investment and guarantee policies. Policies are a big deal.

Solar energy works. Wind works. It has been tested over the years and people need to know that. They also need to know that electricity is not cheap. In Africa, we always base our electricity bills on subsidy, but as soon as it is available, people will pay for it.

What can people attending your webinar expect to hear about?

I will be speaking about energy transmission and distribution in Africa, how African governments can embrace new models and improve energy access, clean energy and energy independence.

I look forward to a very interesting discussion!

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