Mining can help turn on the lights across Sub-Saharan Africa - World Bank

BY: Sebastian Syme

The World Bank Group has projected that 650 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa may still not have access to electricity in 2030, in view of the growing population and rising energy demand in spite of the continent’s vast and untapped energy resources.

Meanwhile, mining companies, according to the group, which needed a huge amount of power for their operations were expected to spend up to $3.3 billion to source power by the end of the decade.

“Is there a way to turn this industry’s substantial need for power into an opportunity to help energy-starved people in the region?” the Group questioned as it launched its report on “The Power of the Mine: A Transformative Opportunity for Sub-Saharan Africa” at the opening ceremony of the Investing in African Mining Indaba Conference in Cape Town on Monday.

The event brought together leaders from international organisations, policy-makers, and the private sector to present and discuss the new report entitled which discusses the potential of power-mining integration as a win-win for everyone.


The report said Africa needed power to grow its economies and enhance the welfare of its people adding that  “power for all is still a long distance away - two thirds of the population remains without electricity and enterprises rank electricity as a top constraint to doing business”.

It said this sub-optimal situation coexisted while vast energy resources remained untapped and proposed that one solution to harness those resources could be to tap into the concept of anchor load.

“Mining industry lends itself to the concept of anchor load as it needs power in large quantity and reliable quality to run its processes,” the report said.


Underpinned by a comprehensive database of mining projects between 2000 and 2020, the report explored the potential and challenges of using mining demand for power as anchor load for national power system development and expansion of electrification.

The report established that mining demand could indeed be a game-changer - an opportunity where policymakers and international community could make a difference in tapping the enormous mineral wealth of Africa for the benefit of the people.

“The utilities would benefit from having mining companies as creditworthy consumers that facilitate generation and transmission investments producing economies of scale needed for large infrastructure projects, benefiting all consumers in the system,” it added.

It said while South Africa would continue to be the dominant presence in mining landscape, its importance would reduce and other countries, primarily in the Southern African region, would emerge as important contributors of mining demand for power.