New Episode of Resources Radio: "Growing the Power Grid in Africa, with Todd Moss"


June 9, 2020

News Type

Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Resources for the Future (RFF) today released a new installment of Resources Radio: “Growing the Power Grid in Africa, with Todd Moss.”

In this episode, host Daniel Raimi talks with Todd Moss, executive director of the Energy for Growth Hub and a nonresident fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute. A former diplomat with the US Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, Moss discusses efforts to build electricity capacity across Africa, as well as economic and political hurdles that complicate the expansion of power. Exploring the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on emerging economies, Moss warns about the long-term impacts of delayed infrastructure projects and declining oil prices.

Listen here.

Notable quotes from the podcast:

  • Limited access to electricity across Africa: “[In Africa] today, almost 600 million people—more than half of the population—lack access to any modern electricity at all ... But the bigger picture is actually even worse. So many people who might technically be counted by the UN as having access to energy, they might just have a solar lantern or some very small system with a couple of lights. They don't have access to the energy that you'd need to run most appliances or any machine that you would use on your job … This is a problem—not just for people at home, but for industry and commerce.” (8:21)
  • Coronavirus crisis makes stark inequalities clear: “The COVID pandemic [has] thrown a very harsh light on energy as a source of global inequality. We are all very reliant on energy in our homes, and literally billions of people around the world don't have that same capability … Just to give you an example of how stark the differences are, Californians use more electricity playing video games than the entire country of Kenya uses … Pools and hot tubs in California use more electricity than the entire country of Senegal.” (18:04)
  • Reinvigorating struggling economies after COVID-19: “This global slowdown has hurt people's lives and especially their livelihoods … We're seeing that around the world. And, of course, the poorest people have the least capability to go without earning income ... And if we just think about remote working as the most obvious example, you need electricity, and you need the internet … Building robust, functional, modern, adaptable power systems is going to be seen as part of building global resilience and helping to dig the world out of the hole that we're in.” (21:00)
  • Why fossil fuel use in Africa should not be a preeminent concern: “If we could magically triple electricity consumption tomorrow [in sub-Saharan Africa], and we did it entirely with natural gas, that would produce the equivalent of about 1 percent of global emissions … I know some people want to lump coal and gas and to try to ban finance for all fossil fuels, but this doesn't actually make sense from an economic standpoint. It definitely doesn't make sense from a development or climate standpoint. And I think the ethical issues are extremely fraught.” (30:01)

Resources Radio is a weekly podcast series exploring timely environmental, energy, and natural resources topics. Episodes can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Soundcloud, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonprofit research institution in Washington, DC. Its mission is to improve environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. RFF is committed to being the most widely trusted source of research insights and policy solutions leading to a healthy environment and a thriving economy.

Unless otherwise stated, the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and may differ from those of other RFF experts, its officers, or its directors. RFF does not take positions on specific legislative proposals.

For more information, please see our media resources page or contact Media Relations and Communications Specialist Annie McDarris.


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