Africa’s power sector is facing many challenges, mainly due to insufficient generation capacity which has limited electricity supply, resulting in low access. The main obstacle to the increase in electricity generation capacity is the high cost of producing electricity, forcing governments to subsidize consumption.

The most cost-effective way of generating electricity is through large power plants, which allow for economies of scale. In Africa, the power generation industry is dominated by costly small-scale power systems. Although small-scale power generation systems are useful for connecting remote areas to the national grid, they lead to higher transmission and distribution costs, mainly arising from electrical losses.

Is renewable energy going to fix this for Africa and if so in what ways and how quickly can the impact be realized especially since each country has its own agenda in addressing this regional issue?

2. OIL & GAS

Africa currently accounts for a relatively small percentage of world production and reserves for oil and gas. As at January 2014, Sub-Saharan Africa's share of world oil production and oil reserves was 6.52% and 4.26% respectively, and the share of gas production and reserves was 3.19% and 3.28% respectively.

At present, South Africa does not have significant proven oil and gas reserves and produces oil and gas from coal and imported crude oil. The relative underutilisation of gas is as a result of the abundant coal resources in the country that allowed South Africa to produce petroleum and by-products as well as electricity cheaply from coal. However, declining coal resources and the relative cost of coal-produced electricity and petroleum in financial and environmental terms will see South Africa diversify its energy mix, a process that is already under way.

Africa’s oil history stretches over a period of several decades, in some places it is even a century old. Presently, there are about 500 oil companies that participate in African hydrocarbon exploration. According to figures from the US EIA, Africa’s proven oil reserves have grown by nearly 120% in the past 30 years or so, from 57 billion barrels in 1980 to 124 billion barrels in 2012. In addition, it is estimated that at least another 100 billion barrels are offshore Africa, only waiting to be discovered. In turn, Africa’s proven reserves of natural gas have grown from 210 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in 1980 to 509 tcf in 2012, representing growth of over 140%. Furthermore, recent further discoveries of sizable natural gas reserves in Tanzania and Mozambique point to significant upward potential for these figures.


The developing nations of Africa are popular locations for the application of renewable energy technology. Currently, many nations already have small-scale solar, wind, and geothermal devices in operation providing energy to urban and rural populations. These types of energy production are especially useful in remote locations because of the excessive cost of transporting electricity from large-scale power plants. The application of renewable energy technology has the potential to alleviate many of the problems that face Africans every day


Africa has a large coastline, where wind power resources are abundant and underutilized in the north and south. Wind is far less uniformly distributed than solar resources, with optimal locations positioned near special topographical funneling features close to coastal locations, mountain ranges, and other natural channels in the north and south. The availability of wind on the western coast of Africa is substantial, exceeding 3,750 kW·h, and will accommodate the future prospect for energy demands Central Africa has lower than average wind resources to work with.


The distribution of solar resources across Africa is fairly uniform, with more than 85% of the continent's landscape receiving at least 2,000 kWh/(m² year). A recent study indicates that a solar generating facility covering just 0.3% of the area comprising North Africa could supply all of the energy required by the European Union.


Showcasing the continent's projects

The Network’s unique investment platform prioritises six streams of development projects related to: