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The Hand-me-downs Causing Blackouts across Africa

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. Now, some African countries are trying to tamp down on energy-guzzling cooling. Ghana is successfully enforcing a ban on imports of used cooling appliances, including air conditioners. Rwanda approved a similar ban, along with Africa’s toughest-ever energy performance standards for new cooling appliances, both of which are set to come into effect next year. A half-dozen other countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, have minimum performance standards for new air conditioners and refrigerators.