Briefing from ROAPE Volume 19 Number 51
Energy - Power to Some People
Energy emerged on Africa's development agenda with the 1979 oil crisis, essentially their second oil crisis; the first, in 1973, had little impact on Africa. Despite the increase in oil prices, African economies were able to accommodate the first crisis due to buoyant export commodity prices; quite simply, more agricultural exports paid for more oil imports. The defeat of the US in Vietnam, marked the end of the export commodity price boom. Unlike developed economies, African economies had not adjusted to the first oil price rise by fuel switching, conservation or the adoption of more energy efficient technologies. They were thus poorly placed to resist the pressure of the second oil price rise. As a consequence of this changing price structure and of cheap loans, Africa's economies gradually increased their level of indebtedness in such a way that they increasingly suffered from ‘compulsory’ IMF readjustment policies.