IT is no secret that Africa has immense energy challenges, characterised by a general shortage in electricity supply.
And solar energy provides African countries with the opportunity to address these challenges.
With an average quantity of five to six kilowatts of power from the sun per square metre per day, Africa can solely depend on energy from the sun.
Countries like Kenya are successfully harnessing solar energy and China’s emerging capabilities in solar technology also offers the continent the opportunity to take decisive steps towards sustainable energy.
Being an all weather friend of the continent we stand to benefit from cooperating with the Asian giant.
It has the necessary technology which can help us harness solar power at a minimum cost.
I was recently reading an article where the message from one Garai Makokoro, director of the Energy Technology Institute in Zimbabwe, struck me; it was a wake up call.
“African countries must think outside the box. The sun is free and inexhaustible. Solar technology — photovoltaic panels — converts the sun’s radiation directly into electricity with no pollution or damage to the environment. The panels can generate enough power to run stoves, pump water, light clinics and power televisions. Africa has one of the best climates for this type of energy.”
I thought of the sentiments, especially this week when trending news is that we must brace for increased load shedding. It’s being said the aged and incapacitated equipment at the country’s major power stations is not helping matters. And I say is this not an opportunity to invest in renewable sources of energy.
Studies have shown that in recent years the cost of installed solar energy generation has significantly decreased. It is no secret or hard science that photovoltaic solar or PV can be installed anywhere the sun can reach.
Despite rapid progress experienced globally, many of us in Africa still depend on less efficient traditional energy sources.
We continue to rely on wood and other biomass for cooking fuel.
And this has negatively impacted the environment.
Africa still has beautiful jungles with many species of trees which make us the envy of the rest of the world, but these magical forests are fast dwindling as a result of deforestation as families continue to cut down trees for the much-needed fuel.
It is time we utilise our knowledge and invest in solar energy as a nation.
Renewable energy presents Africa with an opportunity to grow in leaps and bounds.
It is time we shift our attention, all of it, to solar power and other renewable sources as we seek sustainable efficient and affordable power for all.
As we continue with our effort to revive the economy, let us also prioritise investment in the energy sector, which elsewhere in the world racks in billions of dollars in revenue.
It is only with sufficient energy that our industries can really kick off and remain viable.