Sustainable Growth: Boosting Renewables in Africa

Africa accounts for just 3% of today’s global power consumption – but the continent’s energy needs are huge. More than 600 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity, and many others face high prices and unreliable supply – often from dirty backup diesel generation. What’s more, energy demand in Africa is predicted to soar 77% by 2030.

Hundreds of actors from the public and private sectors gathered in Addis Ababa last week to tackle this issue. The second annual African Climate-Resilient Infrastructure Summit brought together private, public, national and regional actors to help Africa build a climate-resilient infrastructure through strategic partnerships.

IRENA, an event partner, used the platform to meet with regional stakeholders and further work on the Africa Clean Energy Corridors. The Corridor concept, launched in 2014 for the Eastern and Southern African Power Pools, works to promote the development of renewable power and cross-border electricity trade. The initiative seeks to facilitate a steady flow of bankable renewable energy projects to attract long-term stable investments in Corridor countries. By creating a larger regional electricity market, the initiative can attract enough investment to meet 40-50% of regional power needs by 2030.

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Henning Wuester, Director of IRENA’s Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre, reported on initiative progress to date:

  • The ACEC process identified high-potential zones where wind and solar plants can be developed cost-effectively. These zones are now being used in national and regional power planning: Swaziland is using the zones to develop a more integrated national energy master plan; Zimbabwe plans to hold renewable energy auctions guided by the zoning results.
  • Based on the zoning results, IRENA is working with key stakeholders to develop renewable energy projects that could be taken into consideration in the updating of the pan-African Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which currently includes only fossil fuels and large-hydro projects.
  • The ACEC initiative is helping develop and apply national and regional regulatory instruments to establish a regional power market in Southern Africa. Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe are pilot countries.
  • Projects originating from the Corridor initiative could be further supported by the Sustainable Energy Marketplace. The platform facilitates project initiation, development and financing through online matchmaking. It already contains some 50 projects in Africa and more than 20 financing instruments and facilities.

IRENA is now working with West African countries and regional bodies to expand the Corridor concept to include West Africa.

“Through the Corridor initiative, we can create a large regional market and renewable investment opportunities that can lower the cost of financing and change the future trajectory of African energy. This will help the continent achieve low-carbon economic growth and build resilience to future climate impacts.” – Henning Wuester

For more information on the Corridor initiative email acec@irena.org

 

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