Africa faces a two-fold challenge; rising energy poverty while western economies are increasingly restricting investment in Africa’s plentiful hydrocarbon resources. With over 600 million people lacking access to electricity, reliance on hydrocarbons for much of the continent’s power generation, as well as increasing climate change impacts experienced across the continent, Africa requires significant investment and the rapid development of its power sector in 2022 if it is to alleviate energy poverty once and for all.
The energy transition, therefore, has not only paved the way for LNG to act as a bridging fuel, but also for enhanced renewable energy developments in Africa. Have these developments enabled the continent to leapfrog somewhat, towards an energy secure future through the adoption of decentralized renewable energy systems in addition to centralized grids, improved renewable energy capital channels, and the mobilization of the private sector?
As global pressures mount to transition to cleaner energy sources, Africa could, in fact, be a leading market in this regard, largely due to the continent’s significant renewable energy resource base, high demand for energy, and unique opportunities for decentralized energy systems. Unlike developed nations, African countries have not had the luxury of mature energy infrastructure systems to help drive economic development. With much of the continent living in sparse, rural communities, centralized energy systems have not only been expensive, but largely unattainable in Africa.
Now, on the back of the energy transition, and with the declining costs of renewable energy technologies and availability of new technologies such as battery storage systems, Africa is significantly improving its electrification, and thus, leapfrogging towards a sustainable and secure energy future. Notably, Nigeria, through the Solar Power Naija Program, aims to provide electricity through solar generation to over 25 million people across the country’s six geopolitical zones. By establishing decentralized solar systems, the government aims to address energy poverty through decentralized renewable mobilization.