African is still critically short of energy; a nocturnal satellite image showed only a few twinkling lights in the Northern and Southern tips of the continent. In an effort to get Africa lit up and to highlight the importance of green energy in Africa, the United Nations has designated 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Although Africa won’t get light overnight it will assist in jump-starting global efforts and will raise awareness of the issue.
Attempts have been made in the past to roll out electricity in Africa but major problems have always been encountered, such as incorporating rural areas onto the grid. However green energy in Africa such as wind and solar power and eco friendly battery chargers can reach even the most isolated of villages. A poster country of green energy in Africa is Kenya, who is exploring new drilling techniques for tapping into the country’s geothermal resources, which could potentially add hundreds of megawatts onto the grid. Furthermore, Kenya will soon begin construction of the largest wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa. Egypt has also made provisions for green energy in Africa, with investments rising from $800 million to $1.3 billion in 2012, largely due to solar thermal and onshore wind farm projects. Morocco has supplied solar photovoltaic kits to isolated villages, raising access to electricity in rural areas from 15% to 97% in under twenty years.
Projects like these have proven that green energy in Africa provides an effective solution to the continent’s energy shortages. Not only can they be swiftly installed but also reduce the risk of power outages and the reliance of expensive diesel power, which can cost close to 5% of a country’s annual GDP. The cost of rolling out green energy technologies in Africa, from regional wind farms to a personal solar phone charger has also dropped dramatically over the past decade, making green energy projects in Africa far more accessible and cost efficient. Not only will green energy in Africa provide light, but also support livelihoods and businesses, create employment through the development of infrastructure, and attract foreign investment.