Has the time for Africa arrived?

Published on Thursday, 2 February 2017

“Africa must sustain its present and wants to build its future. It is searching for new answers to the thousand questions it faces, starting with energy.”

In 2016, the Renewable Energy Solutions for Africa (RES4Africa) platform was founded, an international network aimed at supporting the spread of renewables and solutions for energy efficiency in the regional markets of Sub-Saharan Africa and satisfying the energy needs of the various local contexts.

Energy that Can Make the Difference

Sub-Saharan Africa is a world in itself: 24.3 million km2, 49 countries, more than 960 million inhabitants, 600 million of which are without access to electricity. 

Since 2000, the energy demand of the Sub-Saharan region has grown by 45%, but still represents just 4% of the global total, even though almost 13% of the world’s population lives there.

Rich in resources, but with limited access to energy, this immense portion of Africa sees sustainable energy as a possibility to give strength to its development and a better quality of life to its inhabitants.

The International Energy Agency estimates that the region, from 2014-2040, will welcome investments of 140 billion dollars for renewables, with an additional 170 billion for hydroelectric alone.

For Africa, With Africa

RES4Africa was founded in 2016 in order to export the successful model for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation achieved with the RES4Med association, which Enel Green Power is a founding and supporting member of, into the heart of the continent.

A space for meeting, dialogue and cooperation between public institutions and private companies, RES4Africa promotes the creation of partnerships with a bottom-up approach, to identify the most suitable solutions to actual local needs.

“Utilities, industries, tech providers, consulting companies and the academic community from around the world participate in RES4Africa in order to provide stakeholders with perspectives and investment opportunities throughout the value chain.”

– Roberto Vigotti, Secretary General of RES4Africa

RES4Africa’s initial focus will be on East Africa, specifically Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Some have spoken of the “African century”, hoping and predicting that sustainable energy and renewables will be able to cover the current shortfall in responding to the needs of families and to the requirements of communities, companies and the agricultural sector.

Energy reforms, efficiency of distribution networks, cooperation between regions and countries, optimisation of resource management and revenues – these are the essential steps that local institutions must accomplish and foster in order to pave the way for new energy in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The private sector and foreign investors will have a key role in supporting new investments, contributing to increased competitiveness of the system in support of innovation in the energy infrastructure.”

– Roberto Vigotti

Technologies for renewables can play a crucial role: they are the most cost-effective for developing the distribution system both in rural and in highly populated areas with the so-called off-grid and mini-grid networks; they create jobs and lead to the spread of know-how; reducing the so-called energy divide by bringing electricity to the hundreds of thousands of people that still don’t have access to it.

Renewables and new technologies pave the way for different and innovative business models that can contribute to the foundation of business partnerships throughout the value chain and foster new public-private combinations, with access to financing that is adequate to cover the costs of development.

Ensuring energy security and access to electricity is a great challenge and a great opportunity that RES4Africa aims to promote, in the awareness that a clean and efficient energy sector is an essential requirement for sustainable development in Africa and in Europe.