A SUNNY FUTURE: Emergence of Central and East Africa as a key solar energy market

  • Recent policy developments highlight emergence of new market for international solar power development.

  • Upcoming Solar Central and East Africa Summit aims to overcome challenges to help the region achieve its solar potential.

  • 150 regional energy stakeholders, including 30 of the world’s leading solar technology manufacturers, to attend summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

Dubai, March 5th 2013 - Like the MENA region, Central and East Africa has an abundance of sunlight, receiving an average of six hours a day — very favourable for solar power generation. A recent report by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology highlighted East Africa as a key emerging market for renewable energy.

The region is in a prime position to become a key global player in the solar CSP and PV renewables market. Apart from countries like South Africa, Morocco and Egypt, most African governments have just launched renewable divisions that look after the installation of solar panels in villages and off-grid power projects.  The African Development Bank recently announced that it has set aside a USD 57 million fund for renewable energy across the continent.

In a statement by a senior United Nations official, Africa’s solar power sector is expected to reach USD 57 billion. During a business forum of investors in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Said Adejumobi, Director, Governance and Public Administration Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa noted the sector recorded “a staggering 1,583 per cent increase between 2004 and 2011.”

The region is currently dependent on conventional sources of energy, with some countries focusing on hydro-power. Hydro, along with wind power, is a renewable source of electricity generation which requires high initial investment and maintenance costs.

This further creates the perfect opportunity for international solar power manufacturers and developers looking for a new market devoid of local expertise.

Despite this, Dickens Kamugisha, Chief Executive Officer, Africa Institute of Energy Governance explained “the region is still lacking capital to invest in the development of renewable energy. On the other hand, the domestic private sector is still very weak and too poor to invest in long term projects that do not bring returns on investment quickly. The region is also not doing a lot to attract foreign investors. To overcome these challenges, the region must support and empower the private sector.”

Kamugisha is speaking at the upcoming Solar Central and East Africa Summit taking place on June 3rd and 4th in Nairobi, Kenya. Organised by French business information group naseba, it is bringing together 150 regional energy stakeholders with the aim of overcoming these challenges and helping the region achieve its solar potential.

Speaking about the summit, Kamugisha said “I believe this [summit] will hugely contribute to creating good conditions for a public-private partnership that can mobilise the necessary capital for the development of renewable energy in Africa.”

Radovan Kopecek, Managing Director of Advanced Cell Concepts at the International Solar Energy Research Centre Konstanz, who is also speaking at the summit, pointed out the importance of such a platform in bringing together international and regional experts. “We see the immense importance of informing emerging PV-countries about our experience and to share our knowledge from Germany. It is of utmost importance to create international networks, share experiences and start discussions with international experts and decision makers now.”

“Kenya has one of the most advanced renewable energy policies in place in the Middle East and Africa. With its convenient location and travel policies, it is the perfect place to gather international and regional experts for a platform like this,” explained Fabien Faure, Managing Director – Product Development at naseba .

In addition to the international and regional experts discussing policies and framework, the summit is bringing together 30 of the world’s leading solar technology manufacturers and developers to open new business opportunities and grow the market.

For more information on this summit, please visit africa.solarenergyseries.com

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