Can Africa fully utilize renewable energy?
The African course of development does not have to follow the established order. According to several reports, there is huge potential for renewable energy across the continent. African countries can jump over relying on fossil fuels and going straight to clean energy that is now cheaper and more readily available than ever before. The continent can not only generate power using clean energy but also economic growth, savings, and jobs.
It is estimated that two out of three people in sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity and this number is expected to rise. Already, Africa faces the brunt of climate change and global warming as a result of pollution from other more developed countries. Adopting clean energy may be the best way to ensure that the direct harms of fossil-fuel energy is reduced on the continent.
It can be assumed that it may take some work to push back against resistance from stakeholders in the fossil-fuel economy who argue that renewable energy is not affordable or feasible for Africa. But the undeniable benefits of renewable energy speak for themselves. Clean energy has the ability to save energy costs. In South Africa, wind and solar energy apparently saved the country $4 billion in the first half of 2015. Thus, it provides an alternative to alleviate poverty and encourage development on the continent. Renewable energy also can be distributed more equally that power generated from fossil fuels, a fact that is necessary considering the rural populations that lack access to power.
For renewable energy to take off on the continent, investment is required as well as support from more developed nations. Although the cost of clean energy is reducing, the African Renewable Energy Initiative estimates that increasing clean energy on the continent could cost $500 billion over 20 years. Nonetheless, some African countries are taking considerable steps towards a future powered by renewable energy. South Africa just built the continent’s first solar-powered airport and last month, Morocco unveiled a massive solar plan that is poised to bring electricity to over half the country by 2020.
Can Africa be the cleanest continent in the world? Let us know by leaving a comment below or by reaching me on Twitter @rafeeeeta