Published on February 17th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill0
Investment Vital To Unlocking Africa’s Untapped Renewable Energy Potential
February 17th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill
The need to unlock affordable and clean energy across Africa remains a major concern, with vast renewable energy resources available but untapped, and millions without electricity. A World Energy Council meeting to be held next week intends to address ways to best unlock the investment necessary to develop a clean and widespread energy infrastructure in Africa.
Leading figures within the African energy scene will gather next week at the 9th Annual Africa Energy Indaba, the World Energy Council’s annual African regional conference, being held in Johannesburg between the 20th and 22nd of February.
Amongst the primary concerns for attendees will be seeking ways to unlock the massive levels of investment that are needed to grow a clean and reliable electricity network for Africa. Reports over the last few years have identified the potential of up to 1,100 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity alone in Africa — one of several renewable energy resources available to the Africa people, including hydro and wind. A World Bank report from 2008 identified 170 GW worth of 3,200 low-carbon energy projects which would require a total capital of $157 billion, but would avoid approximately 740 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year. More recently, the World Bank reported on its efforts to support the Africa Climate Business Plan (ACBP), “which outlines actions required to increase climate resilience and low carbon development.” Specifically, the World Bank has already committed $3.6 billion of an estimated $19.3 billion necessary by 2020.
Tapping into the vast renewable energy resources across Africa is not only important in light of the international promises made to help mitigate global warming, but could have insurmountable benefits for the population, millions of whom are without any access to electricity, let alone reliable access. Just this week the World Bank published figures which showed that 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are living without any electricity.
As such, the upcoming Annual Africa Energy Indaba must see attendees work hard to begin to unlock investment opportunities.
“I believe the time for more serious action has come for scaling up the implementation of renewable energy in Africa,” said Dr Elham Ibrahim, Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure, Africa Union, and Vice Chair for Africa at the World Energy Council. “The continent has abundant Renewable Energy resources in the form of hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal and bio-energy that are appropriate for responding to the challenge of energy access, especially for our large rural population. Thus, the African Union Commission, alongside the World Energy Council, is set to speed up renewable energy projects and strategies already in the pipeline and developed to support the African continent in achieving a sustainable energy future.”
“The African continent has the necessary mineral resources, climate and geology to meet its energy requirements,” added Liz Hart, Managing Director, Africa Energy Indaba. “However, in many of its countries, there is a lack of funding, institutional will or technical skill to assist in developing the energy sector. The Indaba attempts to address this lack by connecting people and rainmakers who can boost sector development on a regional scale. We bring together politicians and energy luminaries to envision, collaborate and then catalyse the decisions that will unlock and unblock access to energy, and therefore enable growth and prosperity.”
“Without access to energy, Africa’s growth will be stifled and, as such, investing in energy solutions for the continent is “mandatory and absolutely necessary,” Hart notes. “Given Africa’s growing population and increased demand for energy, the conference will provide project-focused energy sessions for business development, welcoming African Energy Ministers and Utility Managers, pioneering energy project developers, product providers, EPC Contractors, investors, financiers and multilateral agencies to outline the role of renewable energy in Africa’s economic growth strategy and explore unique project development opportunities across the continent.”