It’s early August and a dozen air conditioners are keeping Joy Obehi’s clients cool on another hot steamy day in Lagos, Nigeria. But invariably the electricity flickers off and her expensive diesel generator rumbles to life.
“The power goes out pretty much every day, usually for one hour or two hours,” said Obehi, who rents out short-term meeting space and spends as much as $300 a month on diesel fuel. “[Air conditioners] use a lot of power, but our clients expect our locations to be cooler.”
As African incomes rise and the number of hotter days from climate change increases, demand is exploding for air conditioners around the continent. In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, more than 500,000 air conditioning units are bought each year and the number is increasing by 4 to 5 percent annually, according to a recent report.
But that demand comes at a price: the plethora of energy-sapping — but inexpensive — air conditioners that are stressing already overburdened electricity grids, saddling consumers with high energy bills, contributing to more frequent outages that damage local economies, and making a significant contribution to the continent’s growing greenhouse gas emissions.Yale Enviroment