Africa has great potential to utilise alternate energies. Natural resources are abundant throughout the continent and if harnessed cleverly, they could be used to create much needed green power.
Last year JB Strauber, CTO of Tesla Motors, told the audience at the Accenture Innovation Conference 2016, that it’s in the areas where there’s no current energy infrastructure that sustainable solutions will flourish. He explained that he believes that renewables with distributed storage in the shape of batteries like Powerpack could help to bring electricity to those who need it.
Products like Tesla’s Powerpack battery systems could eventually become a regular feature in rural villages in Africa with no power sources. Alternative energy solutions can be quickly and easily installed in these areas as there are no competing technologies. The off-the-grid areas throughout Africa are an untapped market for alternate energy solutions providers. If this idea was actualised, Africa would once again leapfrog technological progress, just as it did with mobile solutions. Africa would be boasting alternate energy solutions throughout a large portion of the continent, that only a few other advanced economies have adopted.
In most cases, electricity grid extensions have been considered but proved to not be economical. Diesel generators are often used in these instances but off-the-grid renewable technologies provide a cost-effective alternative. Renewable energy sources also replace the use of kerosene lamps and traditional biomass activities.
Africa can already boast the successful use of renewable power
Kenya is currently a world leader with regards to solar power. It has the most solar power systems installed per capita. More than 30 000 solar panels are sold throughout Kenya each year and it is the first African country to make use of geothermal power. The Kenya Electricity Generating Company has built three geothermal plants which make use of the geothermally active Olkaria area. Many other African countries have adopted green energy solutions. Ghana is actively on the lookout for renewable energy sources as this is the only way to underpin the rapid urbanisation they’re experiencing. And they’re not alone, take for instance the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Grand Inga Hydro Power Project which will begin producing power in 2024.
Many think sustainable energy solutions rely on foreign investment alone
But while foreign investment is necessary and certainly drives many major projects in Africa, infrastructure is essential to achieve any success. And even when infrastructure is in place, power generation is not without problems. South Africa, a somewhat stable African economy, dealt with a major energy crisis a couple of years back due to poor management from electricity provider Eskom. The result was inconsistent power and inconvenient blackouts. The long periods of blackouts severely impacted businesses, hospitals and schools while the energy surges as the power came back on negatively affected operating systems, computers and software programs. The result was compromised security systems and loss of data. This experience once again pushed alternative energy solutions into the spotlight and underpinned the urgent need of these solutions for South Africa and greater Africa.
Africa has leapfrogged technologies before and has been an early adopter of advanced technology that will assist its economic growth. At our AfricArena conference we will explore all areas of current and future African technology. We’ll unpack what current innovators are doing and what industry stalwarts have in store for the next few years. Join us this November to find out how you fit into the bigger African tech picture.