Recently, the African Development Bank (AfDB) president, Akinwunmi Adesina, said Africa was yet to fully unlock its renewable/clean energy potential. To change this, he mentioned that the continent is in need of financial assistance as this is one of the major reasons why the sector still suffers. Despite a few success stories like South Africa launching the continent’s first solar powered airport, a lack of funds is the prevailing narrative.
While finance is something the continent lacks, it appears to not be the only resource Africa needs to improve its exploration of renewable/clean energy. “We are all aware that money is not the only challenge Africa faces in tapping into this sector, even with money, there are other factors we need to focus on,” says Havenhill Synergy Limited chief executive, Segun Odunaiya.
According to him, besides a financial upgrade, knowledge is important, due to the fact that if Africans are not well versed in the areas of developing equipment and the know-how required in this sector. For this reason, they will always rely on the western countries to set up and maintain renewable equipment for them. For instance, “the Asians can be self-reliant in tackling renewable energy because they sacrificed resources to sponsor their people to countries in Europe and the United Kingdom to gain the knowledge,” he said. Africans are also fortunate in this area because in order to gain knowledge, power (which is a major challenge on the continent) is not needed.
Another area that the continent needs to focus on is development in the technology sector. “Currently, the continent is dependent on Europe and Asia for all things regarding renewables, which is off base if the continent wants to make the best out of the sector. As it stands, the bulk of the money Africa makes from the sector, still goes to those countries,” Odunaiya stated. Without power, there can be no technology development, so power also needs to be upgraded so the continent can develop its technology capabilities. Africa is in dire need of power, finance, technology and knowledge in order to upgrade its clean energy potential.