.
T

he world is going through profound change in energy with renewable energy moving to the center stage of Africa’s energy landscape. The transition to renewable energy in Africa has progressed with impressive pace over the last decade, with several countries working to increase renewable energy capacity in recent years.

Projections by International Energy Agency (IEA) indicates that Renewable energy will make up almost half of sub-Saharan Africa’s power generation growth by 2040.  

The report predicts that with the right policies, regulation, governance, and access to financial markets, renewable energy and energy transition in Africa could address the needs of more than 600 million people on the continent who have no access to electricity—Sub-Saharan Africa could meet up to 67% of its energy needs by 2030.  

Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group says Africa is increasingly becoming the new global hub for energy solutions as it is an untapped market for renewable energy resources.

“Africa is blessed with abundant resources. The sun can be Africa’s largest supplier of energy, together with its vast resources of geothermal, wind, and hydropower.” Mr. Adesina said at the 2020 World Intellectual Property Day.

“The African Development Bank is helping to unlock Africa’s renewable energy potential. We supported the world’s largest concentrated solar power station in Morocco, the largest wind power station in Lake Turkana in Kenya, and now supporting the development of the ‘Desert to Power’ initiative that is planned to develop 10,000 MW of solar power across the Sahel zone of Africa. When completed this will become the world’s largest solar zone,” added Adesina.

Dennis Munene, the executive director of the China-Africa Center at the Africa Policy Institute agrees that Africa has become the new frontier in renewable energy.  

“The shift to sustainable clean energy solutions presents an enormous investment opportunity for domestic as well as international investors. Renewable energy also provides an opportunity for the African continent to address climate change and attain the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals on affordable and clean energy,” says Munene.

But more need to be done to unlock the full potential of renewable energy development across the continent.  

According to the IRENA 2020 Report, less than half of Africa’s population had access to electricity in 2018. At the same time 900 million people on the African continent rely on traditional use of biomass—such as charcoal and firewood—as their primary source of energy for cooking. Further, in terms of its size and population, Africa is well behind the rest of the world with regard to the deployment of renewable energy.

“In 2018, only 20% of the electricity generated in Africa was from renewable sources. Compared with the rest of the world, investment is low,” says IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera

“In 2019, two-thirds of all newly added energy capacity for supplying electricity worldwide was based on renewable sources. However, only a mere 2% of this new generating capacity was in Africa. Yet, forecasts indicate that Africa could double its energy demand by 2040,” adds La Camera.

Over the coming decades, the countries on the African continent have the opportunity to address two fundamental energy challenges. First, they can achieve universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030, thereby improving the lives of hundreds of millions of their citizens. At the same time, they can harness the power of renewable energy to ensure that increased energy demand does not lock the continent into dependency on fossil fuels.  

“The energy transition is fundamental to rebuilding our economies in a way that is sustainable and resilient. A change of direction is needed in the energy sector. By harnessing the potential of renewable energy, Africa’s young, dynamically growing economies can ensure energy supply is generated in line with international climate goals,” says La Camera.  

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa have shown firm commitment towards accelerated use of modern renewable energy.

There is a need to strengthen policy commitment. Policy and regulatory stability, transparency, and predictability are fundamental to attracting investments and driving cost reduction. And there is need to support innovation, not only in technologies, but also in policy, business models, and market design.

The IEA’s 2019 Africa Energy Outlook showed how existing policy and investment plans in many African countries fell short of meeting their growing energy needs. The crosscutting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have now made the situation even more concerning, with energy investment in Africa expected to fall.  

These developments highlight the importance of strengthening the environment for investment in infrastructure and all relevant technologies, and continuing to prioritize achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Significant new investment is now critically needed to accelerate the growth of renewable energy in Africa in order to ensure sufficient, affordable, reliable energy for all citizens and drive inclusive, just, and sustainable energy transitions.

Governments can play an enabling role by promoting and implementing policy interventions to support this acceleration. These could be linked to related actions to strengthen energy security, scale up infrastructure investment, and promote the growth of the green economy. Most important, governments need to collaborate more with the private sector to invest in sustainable energy that has proved to be both effective and profitable.

As a promising sign of things to come, several African countries have already succeeded in making steps necessary to scale up renewables, such as adoption of support policies, investment promotion, and regional collaboration.

Daniel-Alexander Schroth, Acting Director for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency at the African Development Bank exudes confidence that things are heading into the right path and Africa’s renewable energy is on an accelerated growth.

Maximilian Jarrett, the Africa Programme Manager at International Energy Agency, told Africa Renewal that renewable energy is already competitive on a cost basis. But he pointed out the urgent need to make it competitive when it comes to other investments that people may want to make.  

“We, at IEA, estimate that under favorable policy conditions, solar PV annual additions could reach a record level of 150 gigawatts (GW) by 2022—an increase of almost 40% in just three years. Economic stimulus measures focused on clean energy can directly or indirectly support renewables. Renewable fuels for transport are an area of particular potential support, as the sector has been severely hit by the crisis. More can and should be done, however,” says Jarrett.

Africa’s renewable energy solutions are increasingly becoming economically viable, underpinned by significant innovations across technologies. Consequently, Africa’s renewable energy mix is gradually shifting from the traditional hydropower and thermal plants to more renewable solutions.  

In particular, the costs for electricity from utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) fell by 82% between 2010 and 2019, while similar trend in wind project reflected a 50% – 60% decline between 2010-2019.  

For instance, more than a third of Morocco’s electricity production capacity comes from renewable sources; hydro, wind energy, and solar. Currently, 35% of Morocco’s energy is already renewable, thanks to the Noor Quarzazate Solar Power, the world’s largest concentrated solar power farm.  

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa have shown firm commitment towards accelerated use of modern renewable energy and are leading energy transition efforts while some of Africa’s smaller countries including Cabo Verde, Djibouti, Rwanda, and Swaziland have also set ambitious renewable energy targets. Others are following suit, and renewable energy is on the rise across the continent.  

Africa has shown great progress in the development of its solar energy markets over the recent years—the continent has experienced a growth of over 1.8W of new solar installations, mainly driven by five countries; Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, and Ghana. With the right policy framework and investment, Africa could meet a quarter of its indigenous energy needs through renewable sources by 2030, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.  

“The easy availability of necessary finance and new public and private investments is essential to ensuring a resilient dynamic energy sector in Africa. However, Africa is still facing major challenges on both fronts. These include reduced financing and revenue flows, a slowdown in new investments in the energy sector and significant increases in the cost of borrowing,” says Jarrett.

“It’s clear that significant new investment is now critically needed to accelerate the growth of renewable energy in Africa so as to ensure sufficient, affordable, reliable energy for all citizens and drive inclusive, just and sustainable energy transitions. Governments can play an enabling role by promoting and implementing policy interventions to enable this acceleration. These could be linked to related actions to strengthen energy security, scale up infrastructure investment, and promote the growth of the green economy,” he adds.

Indeed, there is need to strengthen policy commitment, as policy and regulatory stability, transparency, and predictability are fundamental to attracting investments and driving cost reduction. And there is need to support innovation, not only in technologies, but also in policy, business models and market design.

About
Raphael Obonyo
:
Raphael Obonyo is a public policy analyst and TEDx speaker. He has served as a consultant with the United Nations and the World Bank.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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www.diplomaticourier.com

African Countries Accelerate Energy Transition

Wind turbines in farm in Caledon, South Africa. Photo by Charl Folscher via Unsplash.

September 10, 2021

The world is going through profound change in energy with renewable energy moving to the center stage of Africa’s energy landscape. The transition to renewable energy in Africa has progressed with impressive pace over the last decade.

T

he world is going through profound change in energy with renewable energy moving to the center stage of Africa’s energy landscape. The transition to renewable energy in Africa has progressed with impressive pace over the last decade, with several countries working to increase renewable energy capacity in recent years.

Projections by International Energy Agency (IEA) indicates that Renewable energy will make up almost half of sub-Saharan Africa’s power generation growth by 2040.  

The report predicts that with the right policies, regulation, governance, and access to financial markets, renewable energy and energy transition in Africa could address the needs of more than 600 million people on the continent who have no access to electricity—Sub-Saharan Africa could meet up to 67% of its energy needs by 2030.  

Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group says Africa is increasingly becoming the new global hub for energy solutions as it is an untapped market for renewable energy resources.

“Africa is blessed with abundant resources. The sun can be Africa’s largest supplier of energy, together with its vast resources of geothermal, wind, and hydropower.” Mr. Adesina said at the 2020 World Intellectual Property Day.

“The African Development Bank is helping to unlock Africa’s renewable energy potential. We supported the world’s largest concentrated solar power station in Morocco, the largest wind power station in Lake Turkana in Kenya, and now supporting the development of the ‘Desert to Power’ initiative that is planned to develop 10,000 MW of solar power across the Sahel zone of Africa. When completed this will become the world’s largest solar zone,” added Adesina.

Dennis Munene, the executive director of the China-Africa Center at the Africa Policy Institute agrees that Africa has become the new frontier in renewable energy.  

“The shift to sustainable clean energy solutions presents an enormous investment opportunity for domestic as well as international investors. Renewable energy also provides an opportunity for the African continent to address climate change and attain the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals on affordable and clean energy,” says Munene.

But more need to be done to unlock the full potential of renewable energy development across the continent.  

According to the IRENA 2020 Report, less than half of Africa’s population had access to electricity in 2018. At the same time 900 million people on the African continent rely on traditional use of biomass—such as charcoal and firewood—as their primary source of energy for cooking. Further, in terms of its size and population, Africa is well behind the rest of the world with regard to the deployment of renewable energy.

“In 2018, only 20% of the electricity generated in Africa was from renewable sources. Compared with the rest of the world, investment is low,” says IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera

“In 2019, two-thirds of all newly added energy capacity for supplying electricity worldwide was based on renewable sources. However, only a mere 2% of this new generating capacity was in Africa. Yet, forecasts indicate that Africa could double its energy demand by 2040,” adds La Camera.

Over the coming decades, the countries on the African continent have the opportunity to address two fundamental energy challenges. First, they can achieve universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030, thereby improving the lives of hundreds of millions of their citizens. At the same time, they can harness the power of renewable energy to ensure that increased energy demand does not lock the continent into dependency on fossil fuels.  

“The energy transition is fundamental to rebuilding our economies in a way that is sustainable and resilient. A change of direction is needed in the energy sector. By harnessing the potential of renewable energy, Africa’s young, dynamically growing economies can ensure energy supply is generated in line with international climate goals,” says La Camera.  

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa have shown firm commitment towards accelerated use of modern renewable energy.

There is a need to strengthen policy commitment. Policy and regulatory stability, transparency, and predictability are fundamental to attracting investments and driving cost reduction. And there is need to support innovation, not only in technologies, but also in policy, business models, and market design.

The IEA’s 2019 Africa Energy Outlook showed how existing policy and investment plans in many African countries fell short of meeting their growing energy needs. The crosscutting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have now made the situation even more concerning, with energy investment in Africa expected to fall.  

These developments highlight the importance of strengthening the environment for investment in infrastructure and all relevant technologies, and continuing to prioritize achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Significant new investment is now critically needed to accelerate the growth of renewable energy in Africa in order to ensure sufficient, affordable, reliable energy for all citizens and drive inclusive, just, and sustainable energy transitions.

Governments can play an enabling role by promoting and implementing policy interventions to support this acceleration. These could be linked to related actions to strengthen energy security, scale up infrastructure investment, and promote the growth of the green economy. Most important, governments need to collaborate more with the private sector to invest in sustainable energy that has proved to be both effective and profitable.

As a promising sign of things to come, several African countries have already succeeded in making steps necessary to scale up renewables, such as adoption of support policies, investment promotion, and regional collaboration.

Daniel-Alexander Schroth, Acting Director for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency at the African Development Bank exudes confidence that things are heading into the right path and Africa’s renewable energy is on an accelerated growth.

Maximilian Jarrett, the Africa Programme Manager at International Energy Agency, told Africa Renewal that renewable energy is already competitive on a cost basis. But he pointed out the urgent need to make it competitive when it comes to other investments that people may want to make.  

“We, at IEA, estimate that under favorable policy conditions, solar PV annual additions could reach a record level of 150 gigawatts (GW) by 2022—an increase of almost 40% in just three years. Economic stimulus measures focused on clean energy can directly or indirectly support renewables. Renewable fuels for transport are an area of particular potential support, as the sector has been severely hit by the crisis. More can and should be done, however,” says Jarrett.

Africa’s renewable energy solutions are increasingly becoming economically viable, underpinned by significant innovations across technologies. Consequently, Africa’s renewable energy mix is gradually shifting from the traditional hydropower and thermal plants to more renewable solutions.  

In particular, the costs for electricity from utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) fell by 82% between 2010 and 2019, while similar trend in wind project reflected a 50% – 60% decline between 2010-2019.  

For instance, more than a third of Morocco’s electricity production capacity comes from renewable sources; hydro, wind energy, and solar. Currently, 35% of Morocco’s energy is already renewable, thanks to the Noor Quarzazate Solar Power, the world’s largest concentrated solar power farm.  

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa have shown firm commitment towards accelerated use of modern renewable energy and are leading energy transition efforts while some of Africa’s smaller countries including Cabo Verde, Djibouti, Rwanda, and Swaziland have also set ambitious renewable energy targets. Others are following suit, and renewable energy is on the rise across the continent.  

Africa has shown great progress in the development of its solar energy markets over the recent years—the continent has experienced a growth of over 1.8W of new solar installations, mainly driven by five countries; Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, and Ghana. With the right policy framework and investment, Africa could meet a quarter of its indigenous energy needs through renewable sources by 2030, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.  

“The easy availability of necessary finance and new public and private investments is essential to ensuring a resilient dynamic energy sector in Africa. However, Africa is still facing major challenges on both fronts. These include reduced financing and revenue flows, a slowdown in new investments in the energy sector and significant increases in the cost of borrowing,” says Jarrett.

“It’s clear that significant new investment is now critically needed to accelerate the growth of renewable energy in Africa so as to ensure sufficient, affordable, reliable energy for all citizens and drive inclusive, just and sustainable energy transitions. Governments can play an enabling role by promoting and implementing policy interventions to enable this acceleration. These could be linked to related actions to strengthen energy security, scale up infrastructure investment, and promote the growth of the green economy,” he adds.

Indeed, there is need to strengthen policy commitment, as policy and regulatory stability, transparency, and predictability are fundamental to attracting investments and driving cost reduction. And there is need to support innovation, not only in technologies, but also in policy, business models and market design.

About
Raphael Obonyo
:
Raphael Obonyo is a public policy analyst and TEDx speaker. He has served as a consultant with the United Nations and the World Bank.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.