VENTURES AFRICA – With the blooming presence of political stability and massive investments in renewable energy across the continent, Africa is destined to be the world power house in the next decade.
This prediction is based on the massive price decline in renewable energy technologies, recent political developments and the specific benefits of renewable energies for off-grid regions.
At the just concluded African Renewable Energy Alliance (AREA) annual meeting, Professor Salah Arafa from the American University in Cairo and member of the AREA Steering Committee posited that “Africa will be the powerhouse of the world.”
“It will be the number one continent to do business and it will be leading in renewable energy projects,” he said.
The AREA network is a multi stakeholder dialogue aiming to accelerate the deployment of decentralized renewable energy on the African continent. Founded by the World Future Council in 2009, the group has about 900 members from 72 countries.
The conference, which was hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre and the World Future Council; had in attendance, experts, politicians and investors from 17 countries.
Over the years, investors have invested in Africa’s renewable energy technologies, the electricity grid and off-grid appliances.
The group believes that once the market faces a level playing field for all types of energy, including fossil fuels – renewable energy will simply be the cheapest option. It therefore called on African leaders in power to redirect fossil fuel subsidies into renewable energy infrastructure.
Participants at the conference also noted that for Africa to be a leading producer in renewable energy, the continent needs to ensure an enabling political and economic environment that include financial incentives like tax reductions as well as supporting regulatory infrastructure.
However, in replacement of a mechanism such as micro-financing as a sole solution; Founder of the Bright Green Energy Foundation, Bangladesh and Member of AREA, Dipal Barua, argued that “What is needed for renewable energy is `inclusive financing’, which includes microfinancing, the supply of technology and capacity building measures.”
Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo, Director Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy, Ghana also said that, “Renewable energy, especially solar and wind, has a leading role to play when it comes to energy access in rural areas.”
In the continent’s quest for development of renewable energy; Cape Verde has taken a leading role in renewable energy development in Africa. The West African Islands have set a goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2020.
Abraão Andrade Lopez, Director General of the Ministry of Industry and Energy announced that the country is currently running a study exploring how to achieve 100 percent renewable energy.
At the meeting, Lillian Chege, Associate of the Rockefeller Foundation, also presented SPEED – Smart Power for Environmentally-sound Economic Development. The project aims to foster electricity provision in rural areas based on a mini-grid with existing telecommunication infrastructure.