Renewable energies, Africa’s new flower

Published on Friday, 21 June 2019

From collaboration to action: the renewAfrica programme

All the statistics clearly indicate, therefore, that the development of renewables is a crucial opportunity, but in order to take full advantage of this it is necessary to work together on both sides of the Mediterranean.

“It is not just a matter of European willingness to invest in Africa, but also the commitment and consensus among governments and the African Union,” said Cammisecra, who manages the largest private renewables operator in Africa, present in South Africa, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco. “If governments cooperate to establish an environment of shared regulations to accelerate the spread of renewables and attract private investment in this sector, economic growth could be prosperous and long-lasting. This is thanks to the enabling power that energy provides in diverse sectors.”

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), indicated three fundamental elements that African nations need in order to seize the great opportunity offered by energy access: “An energy plan that identifies the right direction to pursue and shows which energy mix is most appropriate; a regulatory system that reflects the market and does not depend on politics; the capacity to predict the growth in demand and a utility that is capable of addressing it.”

Shared actions and strategies to incentivise private investments, overcoming the energy disparity and ensuring socio-economic development across the continent were also the focus of the seventh edition of the annual conference of the RES4Africa Foundation on 19 June, which was held in Addis Ababa and for the first time in Africa.

“Progress has been made but it has been slow. Greater efforts are required that are coordinated and long-lasting, involving cooperation between the public and private sectors,” underlined Roberto Vigotti, Secretary General of RES4Africa. “The rate of growth in the provision of primary energy in Africa is the highest in the world, with 3% annually, and the demand for energy will double in less than 20 years,” explained Francesco La Camera, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). “Our role, just as that of other institutions involved in this great challenge for Africa, must be that of acting as a facilitator between the various sectors involved in investments.”

A fundamental role, if we consider that the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2018 estimates that between now and 2040 the African energy sector will need investment of 1.5 trillion dollars – largely from private capital – destined in equal measure for generation from renewable sources and the transmission network.

“The task for RES4Africa is not only to gather private investors, who today are mainly European but in the future will include a larger number of Africans,” stressed Cammisecra, who was speaking in his capacity as President of the Foundation, “but to transfer innovation and to develop the skills to increase the capacity from renewable sources that Africa needs: an example of this is the Micro-Grid Academy. But our most ambitious challenge is without doubt that of the renewAfrica programme: there is nothing like it in any productive sector anywhere in the world and we are working together with the European Union, the African Union and 54 African nations in order to make it possible.”