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The Growth of Solar Potential in Africa

by Justin

Clean energy and sustainable growth are on the agenda, providing considerable incentive to capitalise on Africa’s mix of extraction and manufacturing capabilities to support the roll-out and adoption of solar energy.

Johannesburg, October 24, 2022; Africa’s resource-rich landscape has attracted many lucrative investments that continue to power its economy. However, as the world grapples with the challenges posed by non-renewable energy sources, it’s time to shift the conversation towards the “Sun continent’s” unrivalled potential to harness solar energy

Across the region, electricity generation from renewables has more than doubled in the last two decades, with Egypt and South Africa leading the way. As many African governments recognise the need to service the high levels of demand for electricity, investors could discover game-changing opportunities in helping these countries not only access and distribute electricity more equitably but also meet net zero emissions targets. 

What makes Africa perfect for solar?

Africa enjoys a long duration of bright sunshine throughout the year, with vast amounts of land unhindered by cloud coverage. For citizens, these geographical and climatic advantages mean that solar power can be leveraged and distributed without the need for large-scale grid infrastructure. 

Recently published data by Statista shows that globally, Africa leads the way for long-term solar energy power output by slightly exceeding the threshold of 4.5 kWh/kWp per day –– in simple terms, the sun does not shine equally on everyone and evidently favours Africa. 

Solar energy as a catalyst for good 

Considering that only 20% of the world’s population lives in 70 countries where ideal conditions for solar  power exist, the above figures demonstrate the region’s huge potential for economic upliftment. Historically, many rural and disparate communities throughout Africa have been excluded from grid-based electricity sources, creating setbacks in development and preventing access to basic amenities. 

By leaning on its abundantly available renewable resources and moving away from fossil fuels, Africa could create new, tangible opportunities for its citizens that significantly improve quality of life through affordable and sustainable electricity services.

Why invest in African solar power?

Africa’s solar power potential presents multiple opportunities for investors seeking long-term, scalable financial prospects. 

Population growth and development

In the 2021 EY Africa Attractiveness report, Sandile Hlophe, EY Africa Government and Infrastructure Leader, points out that the continent is home to the world’s youngest population, 70% of which is under the age of 30. Tremendous growth is expected in service sectors such as media, technology, telecoms, and consumer services. Combined with an increased drive to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, Africa’s future-focused economic environment is primed for investment. 

Plenty of untapped potential 

In basic terms, Africa only has 1% of installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity while holding 60% of the world’s best solar resources. Leveraging these opportunities early will pay long-term dividends to key players that recognise Africa’s untapped potential. 

Political commitment

From a political perspective, there is a solid commitment from African governments to use the mitigation of climate change as an opportunity to boost socio-economic growth. As a result, many countries now have focused energy development targets and are actively introducing regulations into the national legislature to further encourage the uptake of renewable energy, while also attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). 

Varied and scalable opportunities

Renewable energy technologies align perfectly with the needs of the African continent, where much of the population lives in rural or remote areas. Since solar power energy solutions are scalable and aren’t dependent on grid connectivity, this provides a perfect opportunity for private sector investors to service a wide range of needs by delivering affordable and sustainable electricity services through micro and off-grid renewable systems. 

If recent headlines are anything to go by, Africa is sending a clear message to investors that the continent is ready and open for business where solar power and renewable energy technologies are concerned. Clean energy and sustainable growth are on the agenda, providing considerable incentive to capitalise on Africa’s mix of extraction and manufacturing capabilities to support the roll-out and adoption of solar energy. As demand for electricity services continues to grow, reaching economic and social objectives for the continent’s population will significantly depend on versatile green energy sources such as solar power. 

The upcoming Africa Energy Indaba, the continent’s leading energy event, will allow participants to explore challenges and opportunities to promote innovation in energy operations. Attending this conference affords anyone vested in Africa’s energy sector with the knowledge of devising advanced solutions and business models to grow competitive and sustainable projects and businesses, ultimately contributing to the growth of the economy within which they operate. Moreover, the Indaba will serve as a revered platform for energy stakeholders to network and collaborate with relevant contacts vested in the industry.

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