Renewable May Solve the African Energy Problem

When people discuss how to develop and improve the various economies in Africa, much is made of the natural resources available. There is no doubt that the continent is rich in all sorts of resources ranging from diamonds to uranium. The problem is that all these rich resources have so far largely failed to drastically improve the lives of most Africans. The paradox is that Africa is probably the world’s richest countries in regards to natural resources available but one of the poorest in purely economic terms.

Too often vast reserves of some valuable resource like chrome, platinum or diamonds are gathered by non-African companies and organisations. These ultimately end up exporting the wealth to other nations instead of benefiting the African economy directly. However there is another huge opportunity for Africa in the use of renewable energy options which many feel will be more successful in the long run. Indeed several reports and studies have suggested that renewable energy development could modernize Africa by 2030.

A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency describes Africa’s modernisation could come from an accelerated uptake on renewable energy development in the country. Renewable energy development could lead to quadruple energy production that could contribute to technological developments in the continent.

We’ve already seen how technology and new developments are starting to transform the African economy. Employment opportunities have expanded greatly due to the improvement in communications infrastructure. Young African entrepreneurs are increasingly leveraging the internet for employment opportunities. You may be surprised to see a few digital empires being created in places all across Africa. Including some huge businesses running through Instagram proxies from cyber cafes!

IRENA views hydropower, solar power and biomass cooking systems as major contributing factors that by 2030, would help Africa quadruple its renewable energy production.

Solar and wind energy production in Africa, spearheaded by supportive policies, allowed the continent to produce floor-priced electricity prices. Biomass, which makes up 50 per cent of energy use in Africa to heat and cook food, is set for reduced indoor pollution development and efficiency development.

IRENA urges other countries to follow the examples of some African governments when it comes to policies for renewable energies and regulatory frameworks.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said the lower prices in African electricity production is due to Africa’s readily-available renewable energy sources combined with advanced energy-production technology.

“Tapping into renewable energy resources is the only way African nations can fuel economic growth, maximise socio-economic development and enhance energy security with limited environmental impact,” he said in a statement. “The technologies are available, reliable and increasingly cost-competitive. The onus is now on Africa’s governments to create conditions to accelerate deployment, paving the way for Africa’s unfettered, sustainable development.”

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