Understanding the Energy Flux-Density Requirements for African Development

Understanding the Energy Flux-Density Requirements for African Development

by Benjamin Deniston, LaRouchePAC Science, ben@lpac-organizers.com

2 July 2021

Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant, Cape Town, South Africa

When discussing what’s needed for the development of Africa, there’s no getting around one simple physical economic principle: a vast increase in both primary energy consumption and electricity consumption will be required to elevate countries to advanced standards of living and productivity.

This is best understood from the standpoint of the late U.S. physical economist Lyndon LaRouche’s notion of “energy flux-density” (as elaborated in this November 2020 five part study, https://www.larouchepac.com/efd_1 ).

When looking at the development of entire countries, or groups of countries, a key reference point is the total energy and electricity consumption (for all productive uses throughout the economy) divided by the total population. This approximates the energy flux density level of an economy viewed as a single unified system, and becomes a critical metric indicating the level of development of a country. Mr LaRouche discusses this in detail in his 1983 report, “A Fifty-Year Development Policy for the Indian-Pacific Oceans Basin” (https://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Year-Development-Policy-Indian-Pacific-ebook/dp/B01JHWYZAC).

In that report (still highly relevant for today), he states,

“The pivotal feature of general programs for development of infrastructure is energy systems. The possibility of assimilation of modern technology, and more advanced technologies, into agriculture and industry, and development of water management, transportation, and urban infrastructure is bounded by the constraints embedded in existing capacities of energy’s production and distribution.”

And, a bit later, he continues,

“In the coming period, fission sources, increasingly supplemented and later entirely superseded by thermonuclear, must be the leading feature of energy-generation policy. It would not be possible to supply supplies of added energy adequate to approach the requirements of the developing sector, most emphatically, without primary emphasis on unleashing and expanding potentials for fission generation of electricity and process heat today, and proceeding as rapidly as possible toward progress in successively more advanced versions of controlled thermonuclear processes. Without this policy, tens of millions or some multiple of that must die of increased mortality rates, for lack of energy supplies adequate to prevent this.”

Sadly, Mr LaRouche’s 1983 forecast has been true for much of the underdeveloped world from then through the recent period. Pretty much any significant development indicator shows a clear correlation with the energy flux-density level of an economy—indicators of low levels of development, infant mortality, child stunting, malnutrition, poverty, etc, are all seen to decline as nations increase their energy flux density. While indicators of higher levels of development, health care infrastructure, average lifespan, etc, all improve with increasing energy flux density. (See here for more, https://www.larouchepac.com/efd_3).

To highlight some specific examples, South Korea in the 1960s and China in the 1970s were suffering under the effects of low levels of development (high rates of infant mortality, poverty, etc). Over a time span of about 30 years (respectively, from their different starting decades), each of those countries went through remarkable processes of development, supported by massive energy flux-density increases—around 400% increases in energy consumption per person, and around 1,100% increases in electricity consumption per person.

If we use these cases of South Korea and China as reference models, we can provide approximate, but reliable, assessments of the energy requirements for the development of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Northern Africa and Southwest Asian region. As Mr LaRouche states in his 1983 report, “We know, speaking broadly on this point, that if a developing nation, for example, is to reach the levels of sustainable population-density obtained in industrialized nations, those developing economies must achieve approximately the per capita energy-throughput of industrialized economies.”

Accounting for expected population growth, Sub-Saharan Africa will need somewhere in the range of 750,000+ megawatts of electricity (mostly from nuclear power) by 2050. The combined region of North Africa and Southwest Asia will also need somewhere in the range of 750,000+ megawatts of electricity (also, mostly from nuclear, and, also, accounting for population growth).

Thus, if we’re serious about addressing underdevelopment in Africa and Southwest Asia over the next generation, we need to be thinking about one and a half million megawatts of new electrical power by 2050 (see here for more, https://www.larouchepac.com/efd_5).

Applying this perspective for global economic development, we see that all official projections for energy and electricity consumption by the year 2050 dramatically fall short of the requirements to bring full economic development to the world by that time.

Global energy consumption needs to increase by 200% by 2050, while the US Energy Information Administration only forecasts a 50% increase and the International Energy Agency forecasts a 40% increase. Global electricity consumption needs to increase even more, by 250%, but the US Energy Information Administration only forecasts 80%, and BloombergNEF forecasts 60%.

As a concluding point of emphasis, the required levels of energy flux density development simply cannot be supported by so-called renewable sources, such as wind and solar. Only the vastly higher energy flux densities provided by nuclear fission and thermonuclear fusion power can support the development requirements in Africa and the world. This is explaining more detail than the following video.


Benjamin Deniston, LaRouchePAC Science, ben@lpac-organizers.com

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