Energy Security in South America and Southern Africa: Synthesis Report

By Sheila Kiratu on February 28, 2011

This briefing stems from a project that focused on electricity supply and the extent to which it's traded within Southern Africa and South America.

Within this the current and projected regional energy production mixes were established and since concerns over climate change are finding their way into many aspects of economic growth and development the project also explored the role that the regional ‘anchor states' (South Africa and Brazil respectively) are likely to play in securing the future balance in light of climate change and related mitigation imperatives.

Key Findings:

The authors involved in this project have summarized the obstacles to establishing and meeting mitigation imperatives in South Africa and South America as rigid technological pathways and antiquated institutional and policy frameworks.

  • Technology has always been a major factor in determining the choice of sources of energy. This is because energy investments tend to lock a country into technology pathways that become extremely expensive and difficult to change. Thus, making large-scale changes to the technology base of such systems, for example by introducing radically different elements such as solar and wind technology, cannot be achieved without looking at all dimensions of a particular system.

  • Institutional and policy frameworks affect the way the demand and supply drivers interact with one another. The main reason for this is that electricity systems are deeply entrenched in terms of the economic institutions associated with them, the regulatory rules and structures, technical standards and even the skills of the people who manage and run these systems.

Key Recommendations:

  • Since the cost of exploiting sources of electricity is determined by the available technologies, clear government policy and even financial support is necessary to steer and propel the uptake of new and maybe cleaner technologies by power producers.

  • Immense opportunities exist in neighbouring countries for improving both regions energy profile by enhancing the electricity supply mix and adopting energy mixes that include renewable energy, in Southern Africa's case, and coordinating energy planning and service provision in South America.

  • If national geographic distribution of energy resources can be overcome, regional energy integration offers a better alternative to national reliance because it would allow access to energy resources at low opportunity costs from neighbouring countries.

Report details

Latin America
South Africa
Focus area
IISD, 2011