Of the nearly 1.5 billion people living in Africa, how many of us know just how blessed the continent is with renewable energy resources?
How many of us know that Africa has the potential to play a pivotal role in the global transition to a more sustainable energy future?
The fact is that this continent has abundant renewable energy potential. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Africa is home to 60 percent of the best solar resources globally, the sub-Saharan region alone has 1,300GW wind energy potential and the continent has the capacity to produce 5,000 megatonnes of hydrogen per year.
To realise and achieve its renewable energy potential, Africa needs to ensure that there is adequate investment and infrastructure development to support it.
We have the necessary renewable resources but we need to harness this into usable power. That requires building effective grid, transmission and distribution capabilities to support the development of solar plants and wind farms.
Furthermore, to address the issue of the intermittency of those energy sources, robust energy storage facilities must be constructed so that renewable power can be supplied 24 hours a day.
Installation of the electrical grid needs to be prioritised to support the generation and distribution of renewable energy in Africa. Infrastructure is not sufficient on its own.
Favourable policy and regulatory frameworks that incentivise renewable energy development and position Africa as an attractive destination for investment are also vital.
Affordable financing is another factor critical to the success of renewable energy projects. African governments can help ease the way by forging partnerships with international financial institutions and exploring innovative financing mechanisms to mobilise capital for clean energy investments.
The World Bank and IFC are working with governments to produce solutions and more needs to be done to provide the guarantees and assessments that are required to help de-risk investments.
The benefits of developing Africa’s clean energy potential are many. Solar, wind and green hydrogen can help countries to reduce their reliance on imports of other less sustainable fuel sources, particularly coal.
Tapping into renewable energy sources on the continent gives African countries a greater level of security and consistency over energy supply and pricing. Renewable energy is cost-competitive, wind farms and solar plants are quicker to build, and they can also bring energy independence.
By utilising cross-border transmission networks and regional power markets, African nations can share renewable energy resources and develop interconnected energy systems.
This cooperative approach maximises efficiency, enhances regional energy security, and fosters the collective growth of the renewable energy sector across the continent.
Collective growth will help us get to the more than 570 million people on the continent who do not have access to electricity. Unleashing our renewable energy resources could bring light to so many lives.