In Sub-Saharan Africa, some 600 million people live without electricity. This means that more than half of the 1.2 billion people who, according IEA-International Energy Agency estimates, lack access to energy are in the African continent. A number that is both a challenge and a great opportunity to bring clean tech, renewable energy and therefore sustainable development to this extremely vast area.
With this objective, RES4AFRICA was launched at the annual conference held in Rome by RES4MED (Renewable Energy Solutions for the Mediterranean), the public-private platform that gathers utility companies, public entities and research centres for the promotion of clean energy in the Mediterranean. This innovative strategic project broadens the scope of the network established in 2012 from only the Mediterranean area to the whole of Africa. An area where, according to Enel Green Power’s estimates, renewable energy could reach a 50 percent share in the generation mix by 2030, with hydropower and wind sharing an installed capacity of around 100 GW, followed by 70 GW of solar. A growth that multiplies by ten the figures for 2013 and that allows a CO2 emissions reduction of 310 million tonnes by 2030 (source Irena).
During the conference, supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, entitled “Enhancing investments for clean tech solutions, beyond MENA towards Africa: challenges and opportunities,” challenges and opportunities emerged regarding the promotion of sustainable development on the African continent. A land with abundant resources, whose growth is hindered by the difficult access to energy.
'We want to bring ready recipes and our intention is to collaborate on equal basis with the African countries – Enel’s Head of Renewable Energies and Res4Med president Francesco Venturini explained. 'The African continent is important and has an infinite potential. It’s essential for Italy and Europe both for the great opportunities it offers in terms of business and to solve the problem of migration flows at the root.' Enel, he added, has various ongoing initiatives in Africa and together with RES4MED, which gathers several Italian partners, we are trying to create the right environment to work in African countries, considering that the necessary structure is often missing.'
Today the Enel Group is present in the African continent in the installment of micro-grids. A technology that can grant access to electricity to rural and isolated areas that are not connected to national energy networks. Nevertheless, Venturini pointed out, building micro-grids in African countries is a complicated and financially risky business and “RES4Med allows us to create a basis for investments”.
Investments in energy supply over the next few years in Africa, according to IEA data, could reach 110 billion dollars a year and could total 3,000 billion dollars by 2040. Additionally, thanks to the commitments made at the Cop21 in Paris, the World bank Africa estimates a capital flow in African regions totalling 16.1 billion dollars by 2020.
The RES4AFRICA project, described in detail by Roberto Vigotti, Secretary-General of RES4MED, was created together with the African EU-Energy Partnership (AEEP), and it aims at broadening the network relations with all African countries to promote the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Two key drivers to enable sustainable growth in a context such as that of most African countries, where the increase in energy demand could be guided towards innovative development, based on renewable resources and green technologies. In other words, with low climate altering greenhouse gas emissions and respecting the whole Planet.
The first appointment set by RES4AFRICA, the RES4Africa Day, is scheduled in Nairobi, Kenya, this coming October 26th and 27th, and will be achieved by RES4MED jointly with the African EU-Energy Partnership (AEEP).
The event in Rome will be enriched by debates and a number of round tables with institutional guests, representing Italy, the European Union and African countries, as well as members of the world of businesses and universities.