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Insight & Analysis - September 15, 2021

How Renewable Energy is Powering Africa’s Growth

Most people in Sub-Saharan Africa face severe energy shortages

Energy is the key to development and the foundation for industrialization. Considering Africa’s unparalleled potential for renewable energy, the continent’s starting point for the transformation of the energy sector is strong. The electricity supply in Africa is currently lagging considerably. Less than half of the population had access to electricity in 2018. Africa is well behind the rest of the world concerning the deployment of renewable energy.

In 2018, only 20 percent of the electricity generated in Africa was from renewable sources. Compared with the rest of the world, investment is low. In 2019, two-thirds of all newly added energy capacity for supplying electricity worldwide was based on renewable sources.

Renewable energy in Africa

In recent times, Africa has seen rapid economic growth, with a corresponding increase in energy demand. Sadly, in most African countries, supply lags grossly behind demand. For example, Nigeria, regarded as Africa’s biggest economy, has continued to battle power outages for decades despite spending billions of Dollars in foreign loans to improve the power situation. A recent World Bank report painted a heart-wrenching picture of power conditions in Nigeria.

The Bretton Woods institution said 85 million Nigerians do not have access to grid electricity — this represents 43% percent of the country’s population – and makes Nigeria the country with the largest energy access deficit in the world. The Washington-based institution further said businesses in Nigeria lose about $29bn annually because of unreliable electricity.

ALSO READ: U.S-Africa Energy Forum 2021 Makes Recommendations on African Energy Transition, Energy Poverty Eradication

And just like in Nigeria, there are as many as 30 countries in Africa where recurrent electricity outages and load shedding are the norms. About 600 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity, and approximately 730 million people rely on traditional uses of biomass.

However, the continent is gradually witnessing a massive deployment of renewable energy – which has led to significant cost reductions and performance improvements. 

This has seen some African countries already reaping benefits from proven renewable energy technologies. Along with helping to meet energy needs in a cost-effective, secure, and environmentally sustainable manner, renewable energy has also strengthened socio-economic development…

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