Africa, often referred to as the “sleeping giant” in the realm of renewable energy, possesses an astounding potential for sustainable power generation. Surprisingly, only a mere seven percent of this vast continent’s geothermal, wind, and solar energy potential is currently being harnessed. This underutilization is particularly striking when considering that approximately four out of every five Africans remain unconnected to a reliable power grid. Furthermore, Africa lags significantly behind the global curve when it comes to the adoption of renewable energy solutions, despite its immense green energy potential.
In response to this pressing issue, Enzi Ijayo, a continental think tank dedicated to matters related to green energy, has taken up the mantle of change. They have launched a groundbreaking initiative during the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, which is taking place in Nairobi from today until September 6. This initiative aims to bridge the gap by fostering partnerships and garnering support for substantial investments in green energy solutions. The ultimate goal is to provide a sustainable path toward greening Africa’s economic development.
Charles Wanguhu, Director of Enzi Ijayo, emphasizes that the initiative is not just about research but about catalyzing action. The mission is to develop context-appropriate policies and community-led solutions for energy transition while collaborating with key stakeholders in the energy ecosystem. This collaborative effort seeks to provide evidence-based solutions and advocate for progressive policies that will bring about tangible outcomes. These solutions are urgently needed, as studies predict that over half a billion Africans will remain without access to reliable green power grids by 2030.
Enzi Ijayo’s survey has identified fundamental challenges plaguing Africa’s energy sector, including low access rates, excessive reliance on costly thermal power plants, and vulnerability to fluctuations in global fuel prices, which can lead to economic instability. To address these challenges and realize the continent’s energy potential, Africa requires an annual investment of close to $700 billion. This investment must not only support rising energy demand but also ensure reliability, affordability, and security.
The key to success, according to Enzi Ijayo, lies in creating an enabling policy environment that promotes renewable energy, investment, and infrastructure development. This entails setting clear targets, offering financial incentives, and streamlining regulations. Additionally, fostering innovation and supporting research in renewable technologies is crucial. The report also suggests transforming energy utility companies into separate entities for household, commercial, and industrial power, increasing investments in infrastructure, enhancing grid reliability, reducing transmission losses, and adopting smart grid technologies.
Enzi Ijayo underscores the potential of public-private partnerships and green bonds or blended finance to increase global funds for renewable energy development in Sub-Saharan Africa. These measures can unlock the region’s potential for sustainable energy production and promote socio-economic advancements. Africa boasts an astonishing 39 percent more renewable energy potential than any other continent, including nearly limitless solar capacity (10 TW), abundant hydro (350 GW), wind (110 GW), and geothermal energy sources (15 GW). The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that by 2030, Africa could achieve a renewable energy capacity of 310 GW, positioning the continent at the forefront of global renewable energy generation.
Some countries, such as Kenya, have already made significant strides in harnessing their renewable energy potential, with 86 percent of their power mix being green. The momentum for change is palpable, and as the African Green Minerals Strategy undergoes public consultation, validation, and input, Africa stands on the precipice of a transformative energy revolution.