The potential for renewable energy in Africa
3 May 2012
ESI - Africa.com - 2 May 2012
In Africa, South Africa is investing in wind farms, and along the highways of the Western Cape, one sees a number of solar panels gracing the roofs of government subsidised houses in townships. The national electricity supplier, Eskom, has offered incentive and rebate schemes to households and businesses that invest in solar geysers. In 2011 the World Bank agreed to finance US$250 million wind (in Vredendal on the West Coast) and solar power (Upington, Northern Cape) projects.
Elsewhere in Africa, a number of initiatives have already shown great promise. In east Africa, Kenya is the leader in geothermal generation having built the first geothermal plant on the continent in Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley during the early 1980s. In North Africa, for example, the government of Tunisia has invested heavily in solar energy technologies.
“Africa is generally aware of the importance of renewable energy (RE) as a business case, but has not yet figured out the most viable investment strategy to employ,” Dr Agostinho Zacarias, South African resident co-ordinatior for the United Nations Development Programme says. He is a headline speaker at the African Utility Week conference and exhibition which will be held in Johannesburg from 21st to 24th May.
“There is disillusionment about entry points and required capital outlay, with most governments either under- or over-estimating the related costs. The most prominent constraint is meeting the costs for project start-ups such as feasibility studies, environmental impact assessments and pilot project implementation, most of which should be met by public funding and/or guarantees.