Solar power is often touted as the obvious solution for the 600 million Africans who live without electricity.
But some of the biggest solar power-focused businesses on the continent say some bumps remain on the way to large-scale deployment of solar power either as an alternative to or complement of existing national power grids.
One obstacle is simply “believing that it is feasible,” Mustapha Bakkoury, chairman of the board of Morocco’s Solar Energy Agency, said at a panel during the Africa CEO Forum last week in Abidjan. Even though there are “enough examples to show it works,” as Bakkoury said, a measure of skepticism is still holding back full-blown government participation in some countries. That’s reflected in “not having commitment at the highest levels” to create policy to push renewable energy, he said. Charlotte Aubin, president of GreenWish Partners, an investment firm that specializes in renewable energy solutions shared similar sentiments saying more countries need “strong commitment” to integrating renewable energy solutions.
But there has been an increased focus on renewable energy in many countries, particularly as governments, multilateral agencies and investors alike, realize that building traditional power grids may not be the most cost-efficient way to meet the needs of the continent’s fast growing populations. Solar has been especially focused on in north Africa, with Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco leading the way.
[Photo by IRENA | Flickr]