Solar power shines through after a slow start in Africa
The case for the renewable energy source is becoming clearer on the ‘sun continent’
Africa is sometimes called the sun continent, warmed by more hours of bright sunshine than anywhere else on earth. Yet, the penetration of solar power, despite its obvious potential, is low: the World Bank estimates that Africa’s installed solar energy capacity is half that of the UK.
Spotting an opportunity, entrepreneurs have braved regulatory hurdles, high import tariffs and an untried clientele to establish solar companies on the continent that can profitably provide renewable power.
And, for some, it is paying off. Two of the top 20 businesses in the FT and data provider Statista’s 2022 ranking of Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies are solar energy providers.
“It’s a booming market,” says Hugo Le Picard, a research fellow at the Centre for Energy & Climate at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI). “With a fast-growing and urbanising population, decentralised solar systems are becoming the go-to choice for power generation.”
The draw of solar is its cost and flexibility. Compared with other renewables, solar panels are relatively cheap and can be installed just about anywhere. This has prompted the private sector to invest heavily in solar rather than hydroelectric, geothermal and wind power, which have geographical limitations and cost more.
> Read the article on the Financial Times website