The African continent, with a population exceeding one billion people and an estimated combined economy of US$1.5 trillion, presents huge opportunities for investors, developers and operators across the renewable energy sector.
Renewable energy is already giving millions of people in Africa access to electricity for the first time. However, across the continent over 640 million Africans still have no access to electricity. This equates to approximately forty percent of the population having access to electricity. Per capita consumption of electricity in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) is 180 kWh, compared to 13,000 kWh per capita in the United States and 6,500 kWh in Europe.
Creation and distribution of electricity is fundamental to unlocking economic potential, with the development of renewable energy projects and innovative electricity distribution strategies of central importance to the delivery of the economic and socio-political objectives of central governments.
Activity in the sector has grown rapidly with countries such as Ghana, Kenya and Zambia each adding hundreds of MW of increased production through recent or soon to be operational wind and solar plants. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam being constructed will add a further 6000MW of production to Ethiopia’s network and continues the region’s established tradition of hydroelectric energy schemes.
The recent implementation of legal reforms to energy markets in Angola and Botswana highlights the drive of central governments to provide legislative support for ambitious renewable energy development programs. Whilst the continued expansion of South Africa’s extensive Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme signposts the future potential for private investors in the region.
There is the potential for significant further growth – the African continent is rich with the resources needed to produce renewable energy. It is therefore unsurprising that many investors, developers and entrepreneurs have begun to prioritise African markets and the vast and diverse opportunities which they represent for the renewable energy sector.