Despite Africa being well endowed with a variety of natural resources, it has been a huge challenge for the continent to provide energy to its people. Sub-Saharan Africa has about 70% of its people without access to a reliable source of energy. Energy is vital for economic development. The continuous investment and development of the energy sector in Africa will greatly improve the lives of its people. More jobs are created, more wealth is available, and poverty also reduces. This article discusses the achievements and steps being made in the continent towards improving clean energy access.
Over the years, it has been established that decentralised renewable energy will prove a faster and more viable solution to the energy problems in Africa. It can be located closer to load centre and has little impact on the environment. Also, according to the United Nations, renewable energy should be preferred over the use of fossil fuels in Africa because the continent is most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change due to rapid population growth, human activities among other factors.
Several developments have been made in accelerating sustainable energy access around Africa. Precious Ajuebor, Co-Founder of Offgrid Nigeria discussed these achievements with Gridless Africa in our weekly Tweetchat interview. One of these achievements is the Noor Ouarzazate concentrated solar plant in Morocco. 160 of 580 megawatts (MW) of the total plant capacity has been completed and in operation since 2016 with the remaining capacity expected to be completed by the end of 2018. This project will provide electricity to over one million homes and the carbon reductions are estimated at 760,000 tons per year.
Another major development is in South Africa, where solar energy is being sold to consumers for $0.075 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This price competes with several around the world such as Chile ($0.065/kWh), France ($0.089/kWh) and UK ($0.093/kWh). Having other African countries following in this line of solar energy cost reduction will be beneficial but also depends on individual factors in the countries. 15% of the South African population lack electricity access.
Over here in Nigeria, the country’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is also making strides in energizing rural areas and businesses. REA recently received approval for a $350 million grant from the World Bank for the Nigeria Electrification Project. This fund will be used to develop new mini grids, solar home systems and to power universities and hospitals. This is projected to provide electricity to 2.5 million homes and 70,000 small and medium enterprises. Also, through the agency’s energizing economies initiative, three independent power projects, electrifying 50,000 shops have been completed in three major markets across the country.
Finally, Gridless Africa has discussed with African companies dedicated to offering services ranging from solar mini grid development, energy management, block chain technology, research to financing and media. It is obvious from these that a lot more growth in the African clean energy field will be seen in the years to come.
Gridless Africa is a non-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting renewable energy adoption through advocacy and outreach.