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Green Gold Rush: The African Nations Leading the Renewable Energy Charge

Feb 03, 2024 10:00AM ● By Okechukwu Nzeribe

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh

In the race to combat climate pollution, and provide equal access as well as affordable clean energy as part of the requirements of SDG 7 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, many African countries are leading the charge in meeting the targets of SDG 7 one of which is to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services by 2030.

African governments, recognizing the need to explore other sources of energy, have made committed efforts to invest in renewable electricity and other forms of clean energy sources thereby cutting down on the over-dependence of fossil fuel.

According to a report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, 22 African countries use renewables as their primary source of electricity generation. The report also highlights that “On average, African countries use renewables for 40.5% of their electricity generation. This is higher than the global average (34.1%), the EU average (39.1%), the UK (37.9%), Japan (18.6%) and the US (17.9%)”.

One of the African countries leading this charge is Mozambique. In 1997, the Mozambique government set up the Energy Fund (Fundo de Energia /FUNAE), a public institution whose aim is “to provide financial guarantees for projects that contribute to the development, production, and utilization of energy forms enabling the expansion of low-cost energy services in the rural and urban areas; and promotion of energy resources conservation and rational and sustainable management.”. 

 With a population size of about 34.4 million, the country is exploiting its abundant renewable energy strength in Solar and Hydropower. At the just concluded United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 28 which was held in Dubai, the Mozambique government approved an $80 billion energy transition strategy that seeks amongst others, to transition to a decarbonized future and exploit its abundant hydroelectric, wind and solar resources. FUNAE projects that by 2030, renewable energy supplied by independent power producers will reach up to 575 Megawatts.

Ouarzazate Solar Power Station in Morocco. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another country leading the Charge is Morocco. Ranking second just behind Denmark in the Normalized Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index report, published annually by Ernst and Young, Morocco enjoys abundant solar and wind resources that have made it one of the countries with the potential to become a center for green industrial energy production.

With a recent investment of MAD 55 billion ($5.6 billion) in several projects, the country is looking to leverage this investment to generate up to 1000 megawatts of renewable energy sources to provide its domestic economy with clean energy sources.

Several innovative green technologies are underway in the country. One such innovation is the research on the manufacturing of solar cells which would absorb sunlight and convert it to electrical energy using low-cost natural materials. This research is being led by Professor Abdelkader Otzogit at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech.

Through its investments in renewable energy, the country aims to attain energy independence, increase employment, and drive economic growth

Another country with a growing potential for renewable energy is Kenya. The country currently enjoys a preponderance of renewable energy sources in four key areas which are Solar, Wind, Geothermal, and Hydrothermal energies. 

The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy reports that “renewable energy sources generate over 80 percent of Kenya’s electricity today, placing the country of 50 million people well on its way to meeting its goal of transitioning to 100 percent clean energy by 2030”.

In 2014, Kenya began the construction of the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project which is the largest wind power generation plant in Africa. With the potential to supply up to 3000MW, the project is already contributing about 310MW to the nation's electricity grid. This is in addition to the electricity generated from solar, geothermal, and hydrothermal sources.

With the growing need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, other African countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Egypt, etc are also in the race to capitalize on the global demand for renewable energy by leveraging their untapped natural resources. 

The green gold rush in Africa holds immense promise and potential for economic growth for the continent.

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 Okechukwu Nzeribe works with the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, in Anambra State, Nigeria, and loves unveiling the richness of African cultures.  [email protected]

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