Africa’s clean energy drive takes off, slowly

By Hunter Moon

INTERNATIONAL experts insist that Africa is steadily edging towards an era of renewable energy, with a huge possibility of massive social development and job creation.

The expert panelists, Howard Anglin, Yetunde Aderomola and Chibunna Ogbonna, were part of the monthly TAFFDs Virtual Town Hall discussions about the continent’s readiness for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Their topic was themed around “Tech Towards a Clean and Smart Africa,” which mainly looked at renewable energy and smart cities.

“Renewable energy is a driving force behind any major developments foreseeable in the near future, especially when you are dealing with rural areas still confronted with lack of access to electricity. We have already demonstrated that we are the fastest growing continent in telecoms,” said Ademorola, a social entrepreneur and chemical process engineer based in Nigeria.

Ademorola said although in 2014 and 2015, Africa was labelled the least organising region, a few encouraging developments have been noted.

“We are rapidly improving and have seen a number of countries in Africa taking the necessary steps in adopting renewable energy. In the past two years we have seen countries like Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa participating in energy reforms,” she said.

Co-hosts, Chogwu Abdul and Albert Lewandowski, challenged the panel to break down the meaning of renewable energy.

“Renewable energy is a source of energy that is sustainable and doesn’t take from the environment through the erosion of resources that might take millions of years to regenerate. As long as there’s sunshine, there’s no need to burn coal in order to get fuel or electricity,” said Anglin, a Texas-based business strategist, who is originally from Rwanda.

Ogbonna said it was only logical for developing countries to embrace renewable energy.

“Renewable energy will be with us for as long as the earth stands. It doesn’t run out. It will certainly improve life in villages where there are no street lights. Renewable energy will also put food on the table for thousands of households,” he said.

Ogbonna explained that according to the International Energy Agency, 11 million jobs have been created globally through renewable energy related work since 2011.

“Renewable energy is a business and it involves technical aspects, engineering, installations and educational initiatives. It is a massive job creator,” he said.

Yetunde added that with hundreds of millions of Africans still lacking access to electricity, renewable energy was a much-needed intervention.

“We know that 700 million African still use traditional cooking methods due to this lack of access to energy sources. Energy plays a huge role in educational technology, including the basics of simply having lights in a classroom. There are medical implications as some patients need to keep their medicines in deep freezers that need electrical power,” she said.

Anglin said Africa’s growing population demanded that something be done urgently.

“Considering Africa’s population, which is going to 1.3 billion people, electrification is a huge problem as far as infrastructure is concerned. Embracing new technology and renewable energy is the best way forward. This will also assist in decentralizing power supply,” Anglin said.

Anglin cited an example of how Texas was plunged into darkness when an ice storm hit the state recently.

“That’s the danger of centralized power supply. If the energy grid was decentralized, the entire state would not have been negatively affected,” said Anglin, who also calls himself a Blockchain alchemist. ~ TAFFDs News