According to the Africa Progress Panel, two in three Africans lack access to electricity. How can Africa possibly rise without lights on?
Development institutions in Africa have seen the problem and are acting accordingly. The African Development Bank (AfDB) recently unveiled $12 billion in funds to achieve universal access to electricity in Africa by 2025.
The power crisis also presents immense opportunities for entrepreneurs and companies in the renewable energy sector. New business models and innovations are also emerging to solve the electricity problems in several African countries. Countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa are all on the fore-front, developing renewable energy power plants.
Summarized below, are some of the major current and future country-level developments, projects and businesses in the renewable energy sector in Africa, courtesy of the Africa Progress Panel.
With Shared Solar, solar panels are hooked to micro-grids made up of 20 or fewer families. The micro-grids are managed by smart meters and users pay using mobile money.
Toyola provides cleaner and more efficient cooking stoves. These have benefited over 940,000 people and have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 200,000 tonnes per year.
Elephant energy provides solar energy to rural communities in Namibia and saves families $7 per month in fuel costs.
Helvetic Solar Group
This is a pan-African solar energy company which has already been accessed by over 100,000 people directly and over 500,000 people indirectly.
Student Lights Campaign
The Student Lights Campaign is owned by SolarAid, a UK charity organization. The project offers schools affordable study lights.
Katene Kadji converts local waste into green charcoal and logs that replace traditional charcoal and firewood.
Solar Sister provies women with training and support to create solar-based micro enterprises. Over 1,200 women have already been helped since its formation.
This is one of Africa's largest wind farms.
M-Kopa provides pay as you go energy for off-grid customers. It is projected that customers already using this innovation save a total of up to $75 million in energy costs.
Lake Turkana Wind Project
This massive $260 million wind power project is almost complete. It is expected to provide 300MW to the national grid, generating $150 million annually in forex savings through fuel displacements costs.
Grand Inga has the potential to double Africa's electricity production capacity, making it the world's largest renewable energy infrastructure project.
Nzema Solar Project
The Nzema Solar plant is expected to become Africa's largest and the world's fourth largest.
Zagtouli Solar PV Plant
This will become West Africa's biggest solar PV and is expected to boost energy production by 6% and provide for over 40,000 households.
Itezhi Tezhi Power Generation Project
Itezhi Tezhi is the first public-private project in Zambia, expected to add 120MV into the country's grid and create 460 direct jobs.
Noor-Ouazazate Solar Complex
This project is expected to provide power for 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018. This will save approximately 700,000 tones of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
Zero Blade Wind Converter
This is an innovation that will be 2.3 times more efficient than traditional turbines and also 45% cheaper.
Country-level Fast Facts:
Mauritania – Solar energy powers 66% of its capital's energy and 10% of its national grid.
Angola – Hydro plants generate over 66% of the country's electricity. Potential could be ten times the current capacity.
South Africa – Since 2010, South Africa has had one of the world's fastest growth rates for renewable energy investment.
Sudan – Hydro electricity is the largest source of power in Sudan (68% in 2011)
Ethiopia – The country is projected to have one of the world's lowest-carbon power generation systems by the mid 2020s.