How Solar and Renewable Energy in Africa Makes a Better Future

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

Apr 9, 2019

When we hear Africa, the first thing that comes in our mind that it is the world’s second largest continent and second most-populated continent with 1.2 billion people. But it is strange that around 600 million people in Africa are living without having regular access to electricity and most of the population lives in rural areas which are hard to reach.  


For these people, it would take many more years to gain access to electricity, and this entire process will require the right amount of investment. Though, business entrepreneurs and households in rural Kenya has discovered a promising solution to this problem in installation of mini-grids to meet their day-to-day demands,

Local businesses can be connected to the microgrids provided by the community, and the payments can be taken through online mobile money system which is already being used in many countries worldwide.


In the past few decades, with the significant advancement in technology and reduced production costs, solar technology has become quite inexpensive and affordable.  The growing availability of solar appliances like solar fans, LED lights, solar refrigerators, TV and the other types of equipment has increased the solar energy expansion in rural areas.


Why is Africa moving towards Solar and renewable energy?


A published study Brighter Africa by McKinsey has stated that sub-Saharan Africa will utilize about 1600 terawatt of electricity by the year 2040, and it is four times of utilized electricity of the year 2010 and Similar to combined electricity of Latin America and India in 2010 (but still there are 30 % of the population who still do not have access to electricity.)


The investment required to meet this production level by 2040 is around $490 billion and $345 billion will be required for its transmission and distribution.  There will rise in the share of natural gas from 6 to 45 % by the year 2040, and the expense of coal will drop from 51 % to 23%. The share of renewables will increase up to 26%  which is presently around 21%.


Future Scope of Solar and Renewable Energy for Africa

Solar and wind energy has now become the most efficient way to generate energy as the life span of the coal-powered station has almost completed.  By 2050, around 95% of electricity in Africa will be generated by using renewable energy resources like solar, wind and geothermal energy.


Renewable energy is the most effective solution to the long-running shortage of electricity supply in South Africa as in Africa around two-thirds of the population which is approximately 600 million people have electricity access. With only seven countries of this continent with exceeding 50% of electricity rates, electricity access is the main reason behind the development. It is essential to power telecommunication, water supply, healthcare, and educational services.


With the potential of generating 10 terawatts of solar energy, 1 gigawatt of geothermal energy and 1300 gigawatts of wind power, renewable energy will be the future of Africa. It will eliminate the requirements of fossil fuels which has a negative impact on the environment as well as society.  African governments, as well as the private sector, are now finding cheaper and smarter ways to produce the energy and tackle the electricity deficit in the continent.

Most of the experts agree that Africa requires to increase its electricity production by using renewable sources like wind, predominantly solar and hydroelectric. Africa is the continent of a growing private market for renewable energy ventures which results in the increased number of investors who are investing in the development of technologies that can lead to sustainable and clean energy generation.


Energy market of various countries in Africa is experiencing a structural transformation which is in the direction of a more economically integration of renewable energies. The rapid rollout of wind and solar energy in some of the African Countries depicts that “renewable plays an essential role in the overall energy mix Africa.”


According to the Solar Magazine interview with Benjamin Attia ( Wood Mackenzie Power & RenewablesAnalyst), stated that Wood Mackenzie had a collaborative partnership with Energy 4 impact(Non-profit organization). They seek to decrease poverty by accelerating energy access. They are providing bsiness, financing, and technical advice to off-grid energy businesses working in sub-Saharan Africa.


Facts related to Solar and Renewable Energy Implementation in Africa?


Rising off-grid solar investment

In early December, Government of UK stated that they will invest another ₤100 millionthrough the REPP (Renewable Energy Performance Platform) in various projects. So, it boosts the growth of the renewable energy sector of Sub Saharan Africa. This fund was made in 2015 for helping the project developers to overcome the financial problems.Wind, hydroelectric, spanning solar, biomass and geothermal power generation,  the REPP program is funding 18 renewable energy projects in different countries of Sub-Saharan Africa which includes Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, and Burundi – as per the news update.The new funding of  €100 million will manage the finance of many projects and programs based on renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa for the upcoming five years as per the UK government. Moreover, REPP is an integral part of the UK commitment to internationally invest about €5.8 billion regarding climate finance by 2020.


Geographic and downstream off-grid solar expansion

Sub Saharan off-grid solar companies continuously raising financial sources for expanding geographically and to enhance the range of their off-grid electronic products. Also:  

During Dec 2011, Off-Grid Electric or Zola Electric had stated that it has acquired about USD 32.5 million credit facility, so that they can finance and manage their activities in Tanzania within the five years.


D.light was established in 2007, it works towards providing solar power to 62 countries and around 88 million people according to the management.  The products and services offered by company extend to include the portable solar lanterns which double as the LED lighting, flat-screen TV, mobile phone rechargers and the small home appliances.

The D.light has raised around US$100 million in the past two years in equity and debt financing.  Even, some of the initial investors of D.light took profit of the latest investment funding and make their exit.


Final Verdict

As the power sector sub-Saharan Africa facing various challenges but still there is a real push for change. Like Sustainable Energy program of UN assisting private sector activity in various parts of the value chain. Even, the region holds the ability to lead the sector development to the new level. And the Success will drive the economic growth of the continent and improve the lives of millions of people. Also, supports in increasing electricity supply over various industry and providing millions of jobs around the continent.


Source: https://www.environment.co.za/environmental-issues/how-solar-and-renewable-energy-in-africa-makes-a-better-future.html

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