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African region’s wind energy resource better compared with other countries

African region’s wind energy resource better compared with other countries
Small shop owner counting up the total of goods being sold in her shop in South Africa.

Africa has a huge wind energy reserve just waiting to be tapped compared with other developing regions, a study presented before an economic conference concerning the region shows.

According to a paper presented at the 2012 African Economic Conference, out of the 27 developing countries across all continents that hold the highest potential for wind energy, eight are in the African region.

These are Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Mauritania, Egypt, Madagascar, Kenya and Chad.

For instance, Mauritania’s wind potential is around four times its annual energy consumption in tons of oil equivalent. Sudan’s wind potential, on the other hand, corresponds to 90 percent of its yearly energy needs.

Other African countries that have good prospects for large offshore wind energy resources are Mozambique, Tanzania, Angola, South Africa and Namibia.

But despite the high wind energy potential in particular African countries, “wind powered electricity generation is still very limited, with an estimated 1.1 gigawatts installed capacity in 2011,” the paper reported.

“Notably, wind-based electricity contributes less than 1 percent to installed electricity generation capacity on the continent,” it added.

The paper says investments in wind and other renewables are crucial. The region, it says, has to invest more in key sectors that would accelerate the growth and lead to sustainable development, with energy and infrastructure as the focus.

To date, the public sector or the government is the main sponsor of wind projects in Africa, accounting for 78 percent of all completed installations.

Meanwhile, 14 percent comes from the private sector, and the remaining seven percent from public-private sponsored projects.

“[While] governments may have access to cheaper financing through grants and concessional loans from development agencies, private sponsors mobilize financing mainly at commercial terms which are relatively more expensive,” noted the paper.

According to the paper, Africa faces the challenge of producing more power to match existing and future demand, with more than half a billion people in the continent without access to electricity.

“For many countries, an opportunity exists to do so in a clean and sustainable manner. The continent is well endowed in renewable energy resources which constitute plausible solutions to address existing power shortages.”

“Indeed, Africa’s reserves of renewable energy sources are the highest in the world, and the continent has enough renewable energy potential to meet its future energy needs,” according to the World Energy Council.

Of the top 35 developing countries ranked highest in renewable energy reserves, 18 are said to be found in Africa. – Catherine Dominguez

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