Sustainable Africa scenario 2030: refrigeration drives households electricity demand

According to the IEA’s sustainable Africa scenario, refrigeration appliances, including air conditioners, will drive most of the increase in household electricity demand by 2030. The adoption of energy-efficient appliances is mandatory to help lower average consumption per household.

In June 2022, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released the Africa Energy Outlook 2022 report. The authors explored a Sustainable Africa Scenario (SAS) in which all African energy-related development goals are achieved by 2030. In this scenario, refrigeration, including air-conditioning appliances will drive most of the increase in household electricity demand by 2030.


According to the IEA’s previsions, energy demand for air conditioning could quadruple over the decade as urbanisation and climate change rapidly increase the need for cooling in Africa. It will therefore be necessary to focus on energy-efficient solutions.


The Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to clean energy by 2030 translates to an additional 900 million Africans having access to electricity compared to 2020. Rising incomes and expanded access to electricity will increase ownership of air conditioners and household refrigerators. The IEA estimates that the stock of air conditioners will reach 40 million in 2030 (+17 million units from 2020), and the stock of refrigerators will reach nearly 200 million in 2030 (+80 million units from 2020).


Fortunately, the rapid implementation of mandatory minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) and mandatory comparative labels (MCL) should help lower the average electricity consumption per household, in contrast to total electricity use. To date, around 40% of African countries have adopted mandatory MEPS for air conditioning equipment or are planning to do so, and around 20% for refrigeration. Currently, Algeria, Benin, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia have already adopted mandatory MEPS for air conditioners, and MEPS have recently been proposed by ECOWAS member states and the Seychelles.


Switching to more efficient appliances also requires efforts to halt the dumping of inefficient second‐hand appliances on African markets. Nonetheless, governments should consider the impact of potentially more expensive efficient appliances on their affordability for households, even though they cost less to operate. Overall, the adoption of more stringent policies to improve the energy efficiency of cooling equipment and building envelopes, along with the promotion of passive cooling in buildings should help avoid almost 20 TWh of demand by 2030.




IEA (2022), Africa Energy Outlook 2022, IEA, Paris