The Age of Renewables: Brightening Africa’s Future
By admin July 11, 2016

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RenewableWith only 24 percent of the sub-continent having access to power (World Bank), energy production in Sub-Saharan Africa leaves a lot to be desired – 1.2 billion people to be exact. This gap would be best filled by alternative energies due to the continents geographical landscape. These renewable energies would provide the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional biomass used today. In addition, demand continues to rise, leading to a lot more unlit homes and the potential for tremendous growth. Investors globally are pouring into Africa to provide the capital needed to develop more alternative energy: annual clean-energy investments more than doubled to Euros  €5.4 billion in 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

However, Bloomberg reports that there is a severe shortage of skilled labor that is necessary to get these projects off the ground. In fact, the shortage is threatening USD $1.9 billion dollars in funds. In countries like Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, there are billions of dollars simply waiting to be used for the implementation of green energies and yet there are not enough people to utilize this funding. For example, the international companies working in the region would like to employ local talent to build, run and design these technologies. Unfortunately, the builders and engineers needed for this kind of work are so specialized that there has been difficulty in finding those who can help in these nations. Outsourcing these jobs to foreign nationals would not be nearly as beneficial to the economy and the peoples of these countries.

The cherry on top of this cake of course is political backing. Due to the large profits and the global attitude towards clean energy, politicians and top businessmen alike are happy to invest in clean energy and shift their nations to that direction. Renewables that were previously seen as unreliable and unable to cope with demand are now gaining strong traction amongst energy suppliers such as Eskom of South Africa.

Under these auspicious circumstances, International Organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are also happy to lend funding for green projects but the lack of workers has put a wrench in this otherwise prosperous venture. Factors such as brain drain, poor educational training and lack of specialized skills all play into this shortage. While the companies who have invested previously and profited from clean energy in sub-Saharan Africa want to expand, they are limited by this shortage. This shortage is therefore not only stopping national growth and prosperity but also holding back thousands of potential workers across the continent that could gain financially from this expansion: “… if investment needs are met, an average USD 70 billion per year will spread across the continent for different technologies across the supply chain. This means new jobs and opportunities for the African population” (IRENA).

With the demand expected to reach 1,600 terawatt hours by 2040, it is no surprise that this shortage is frustrating for all involved. A potential solution would involve not only nationally incentivized vocational training but also a push to cultivate local talent and push youth to pursue careers in these fields. With only positives to gain from the resolution of this shortage, here is to hoping for brighter futures across Africa.

For more information:

Renweable Energy is About to Boom in Africa

Renewable Energy Has Arrived

South Africa Eskom CEO Commits to Renweables

Worker shortage threatens 1.9 billion of green power in Africa

Thanks for sharing !

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