Image Source: Andrew Owuor
With over two-thirds of Africa’s population having no access to energy, the prospects that those living there will be able to develop a modern thriving society appear on the surface to be nearly impossible. After all energy is necessary to provide communication services, proper healthcare, and a growing economy. Yet, Africa’s energy challenges may not be as insurmountable as they appear. While it’s true in Sub-Saharan Africa the average electricity grid access rate is a mere 20% and only seven countries in Africa have electricity rates that exceed 50% there is hope when we look at the sutainable energy potential the continent has.
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Research shows that Africa “has the potential to source an additional 10 terawatts of solar energy, 1,300 gigawatts of wind power, and 1gigawatts of geothermal potential.”
So what’s holding Africa back?
Two main reasons for Africa’s inability to tap its sustainable fuels is a combination of large fossil fuel reserves coupled with a lack of technologocal capabilities. The fossil fuel sector in Africa has obvious inbuilt interests in ensuring Africa does not move to a more sustainable model. This in turn causes the continent to lag far behing in technological development. Yet, this is begninng to change.
Two projects stand out as examples of the changing face of African energy production.
Lake Turkana Wind Farm in Kenya: This project is an excellent example of a blend of government and private investments. When operational, the wind farm’s 365 turbines will provide the country with 17% of its energy. That is tremendous.
Solar field at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda: This project was put together by Israel’s Gigawatt Global in conjunction with the Rwandan government. This project “is the first utility-scale, grid-connected, commercial solar field in East Africa. The field is 8.5 MW, and it increased Rwanda’s generation capacity by 6%.” Not only that, but Gigawatt Global invests heavily into the local populace surrounding the solar farm. Gigawatt Global has similar projects in Burundi and Nigeria.
These projects are just two examples of the changing direction of African sustainable energy development. With a proper balance between government and private investment, and an injection of capital from green banks and impact investment portals the African continent will be able to realign its energy infrastructure for the 21st Century.
- David is SDG-Market's Chief Marketing Officer. He is considered an expert in the Middle East and Sub-Sahara African regions as they relate to indigenous rights and geopolitics. In the past he acted as an advisor to OurCrowd's director of investment community as well as having consulted a variety of fintech and equity level crowdfunding platforms.
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