Strong demand is set to give a huge boost to renewable energy growth in sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years, driving cumulative capacity up more than 70 percent, a senior international energy official said Wednesday.
From Ethiopia to South Africa, millions of people are getting access to electricity for the first time as the continent turns to solar, wind and hydropower projects to boost generation capacity.
“A big chunk of this [growth] is hydro because of Ethiopia, but then you have solar … in South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia and wind in South Africa and Ethiopia as well,” said Paolo Frankl, head of the renewable division at the Paris-based International Energy Agency.
He forecast installed capacity of renewable energy in the Sub-Saharan region almost doubling — from around 35 gigawatts now to above 60 gigawatts, given the right conditions.
Ethiopia has an array of hydropower projects under construction, including the $4.1 billion Grand Renaissance Dam along the Nile River that will churn out 6,000 megawatts upon completion.
That is enough for a good-sized city for a year.
“Africa has one of the best potential resources of renewables anywhere in the world, but it depends very much on the enabling framework, on the governance and the right rules,” Frankl told Reuters on the sidelines of a wind energy conference.