By Albert Odiyo

Renewable energy, especially Solar Energy, has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years in Africa. The growth has been occasioned by the need to improve access to electricity to the African population and the desire to embrace clean energy technologies.

The Statistics

According to Power Africa, a five year US government Initiative to double access to power in Sub Saharan Africa, two out of three people in Sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity. This poses a huge challenge to African governments, but there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Africa has embraced renewable energy.

Renewable energy can more than quadruple by 2030 to 22% compared to today’s level of about 5 %. This is according to the International Renewable Energy Agency report dubbed “Africa 2030” released in October, 2015.

Northern Africa and South Africa account for 30% and 45% respectively of the total electricity generated in Africa. This leaves Sub-Saharan Africa other than South Africa with about 25% of the total electricity generated, although about 80% of the continental population resides in this region. This is according to United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Biomass, has for a long time, been Africa’s renewable energy source for cooking and process heating in the manufacturing industry. However more renewable energy options are being explored and embraced like Hydro power, Wind, Solar and Geothermal.

The Technology

According to IRENA, some of the most cost competitive photovoltaic projects worldwide are being already used being in Africa. What is most interesting thing to mention is that some of the technologies deployed in Africa are the most are the most sophisticated and advanced in the whole world.

The use of a concentrated solar power, for example, in South Africa are the most advanced in the world. This technology uses mirrors to concentrate energy from the sun. This energy steam turbines or engines that generate electricity.

Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Namibia, Zambia and Ivory Coast are already exploiting grid connected Geothermal, Solar and Wind power projects. This is according to Frost and Sullivan report. The report further singles solar as the most popular technology in all these countries.

The Impact

African economies are set to benefit from the deployment of renewable energy technologies in a number of ways. This ranges from new jobs and opportunities for Africans and consequently rise in GDP.

The ever increasing population means more consumption of energy therefore, the switch to modern renewable technologies will lead to more energy for transportation, modern cooking solutions and modern technology. This shift to modern renewable cooking solution alone, according to IRENA, will result in 30 billion dollars savings annually in Africa.

The Conclusion

The African population is striving for better living standards, fewer health hazards and more comfort. The positive impact that comes with renewable energy deployment, both social and economic, cannot be over emphasized. Africa Yes We Can.

The writer is the Project Manager at Eenovators Limited

albert@eenovators.com , oumaodiyo@gmail.com