Alternative Energy Solutions in Africa
By admin October 13, 2015

Alternative Energy

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, there are 621 million people in sub-Sahara Africa that do not have access to electricity. Making matters worse, 3.5 million people die each year from household air pollution caused by fuelwood and charcoal used for cooking or lighting homes. The poorest households in Africa spend about $10 per kilowatt-hour to light their homes whereas the average cost of that same kilowatt hour of electricity in the US is $0.12. Solar kits costs $200 which creates a barrier for the very poor, but falling costs of renewable technology is lessening this burden.

According to Adnan Z. Amin, the Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency, a steep drop in the price of renewables technology creates a “massive opportunity” for Africa to expand energy systems while providing a pathway for low-carbon growth. For a long time, African governments have subsidized energy utilities which has resulted in keeping electricity costs high. They reportedly spend about $21 billion a year to subsidize energy utilities and fossil fuel based products. The International Renewable Energy Agency released a new report last week that claims that a quarter of Africa’s energy needs could feasibly be supplied by renewable energy within the next 15 years. A renewable energy approach would also decrease the burden of the government having to subsidize energy utilities.

Handling Africa’s energy deficit provides the continent with an enormous opportunity to reduce poverty, promote economic prosperity, and safeguard the sustainability of the planet. According to Amin, “the technologies are available, reliable, and increasingly cost-competitive. The onus is now on Africa’s governments to create conditions to accelerate deployment, paving the way for Africa’s unfettered, sustainable development.”

Alternative energy in Africa is also on Akinwumi Adesina’s, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), top priority list. He is aiming to eliminate Africa’s energy deficit by 2025 by mobilizing $55 billion of investment. The African Development Bank has recently proposed a new plan called the “New Deal for Energy in Africa” to raise support for energy projects.

Multiple NGOs are already interested in implementing energy projects across the continent. The US-based musician, Akon, has recently founded his own energy project named Akon Lighting Africa. The project has already implemented deals with the governments of 16 African states and aims to be operating in 25 countries by the end of next year. More specifically, the project will install 100,000 street lamps in villages, create 1,000 hub solar micro-generator communities, replace old generators that use fossil fuels, and install 200,000 household solar electric systems. African governments should take the opportunity to invest in alternative energy due to the increased demand for alternative energy coinciding with a drop in costs.

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