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Africa has the potential to become the World’s Renewable Energy Powerhouse

by Milicent Atieno
Africa has the potential to become the World’s Renewable Energy Powerhouse

One of the most consistent things about Africa is the Sun. The Sun shines so much and in such a consistent manner in Africa, it is the one thing you are always certain will be there tomorrow. Some are even praying it shines less bright and less hot tomorrow than it does today. All that Sun represent untapped solar energy production. The continent also gets its fair share of wind current, which could also be tapped to produce wind-generated energy.

When you combine solar and wind-generated energy, Africa could easily become Earth’s renewable energy powerhouse. The continent has so much potential of generating green energy, that if exploited in the right way, it could generate enough for use internally and still have more to export to other regions of the world.

Ironically, Africa has a huge energy deficit. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the Secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) wrote on a post on Huffing post:

“The provision of clean electricity is crucial to Africa’s continued economic growth and prosperity. Currently, though, there is a gap between the necessary electric utility infrastructure and the scale of our ambitions as a continent.

As a continent, we will need to spend at least 6%of our GDP in energy over the next 10 years if we want to sustain our economic growth. How do we bridge the gap ahead of us?”

NEPAD’s mandate is to drive and accelerate implementation of key energy project across Africa. NEPAD’s African Power Vision (APV), is aligned with the Africa 2063 Agenda; a long-term plan for the continent to increase access to affordable energy using multiple sources. The goal of APV is to reach 80% residential electrification rate by the year 2040 and 90% for business and industrial establishments.

The ‘How’ part of the equation relies on some off-grid solutions, with a strong focus on green energy in line with the fight against global warming. The attainment of this goal largely depends on the technical skills development and Africa’s ability to set up a continent-wide framework support.

Regional integration will go a long way in boosting renewable energy production and distribution. NEPAD is also contributing towards the implementation of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative and the Sustainable Energy for ALL (SE4ALL) initiative that was launched back in 2011. NEPAD intends to achieve all these by building bridged between national project owners and developers/financiers, working towards bankability and financial close.

The main point being, the key to unleashing Africa’s potential lies in capitalizing on opportunities that utilized both national and regional resources in such a way that benefits the entire continent. Africa being a continent where solar and wind resources are in plenty, it could easily become a trailblazer in renewable energy. Sub-Saharan Africa alone has the capacity of producing over 170 gigawatts of additional power through 3,200 low-carbon energy sources that works in combinations of biofuels productions, heat-and-power, and mass transportation.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the answer to Africa’s energy problems does not lie outside its borders, but in its ability to get enough funding to implement viable energy projects that will make its economy leapfrog. That is the reason why on December 16th, under the aegis of ECA and NEPAD, ambassadors, high officials, international experts, and entrepreneurs came together at the Dakar Financing Summit (DFS) to launch the “16 infrastructure projects for African integration” guidebook.

The following three strategic areas were identified as trans-boundary projects: Energy, Infrastructure, and Connectivity. This guidebook is geared to become investors’ guide in making decisions. The book answers question about various projects’ economic viability, technical specifications, international support, strategic impact, coordination, risks & mitigations, expected benefits, and progress reports.

The guidebook also presents African government with strategic recommendations on how to go about securing funding for their various projects. Already, three of the 16 DFS projects are at an advanced stage of financial close. They are:

Ø The hydropower project in East Africa (Ruzizi III Dam)

Ø The hydropower project in West Africa (Sambangalou Dam)

Ø The Nigeria-Algeria Gas Pipeline Project

The fruition of all DFS projects will mark milestone achievement for NEPAD towards powering Africa.

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