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Africa’s renewable energy sector to hit $57 billion by 2020 - UN

Africa’s renewable energy sector will be worth $57 billion by 2020, according to a senior official at the United Nations.

Speaking at a business forum of investors and policy makers in Addis Ababa, Said Adejumobi, the Director for Governance and Public Administration Division of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, said the sector recorded a “staggering” 1,583 percent increase between 2004 and 2011.

The immense growth ballooned to $3.6 billion in 2011 from $750 million in 2004. This is mostly due to unmet demand, coupled with the abundantly available renewable energy resources in Africa, noted Mr. Adejumobi.

He stressed that energy demand in Africa is expected to rise in the foreseeable future owing to a combination of factors, including the continent’s remarkable economic progress in the past 15 years, which averaged nearly five percent growth in gross domestic product; the demographic structure in which more than 60 percent of its population is comprised by young people; and the rising urbanization rate in Africa.

Mr. Adejumobi said that the key growth areas in the sector are wind, solar and geothermal power but he stressed that there is a need for foreign direct investment in energy and power infrastructure.

Long-term strategies needed

In order to attract private investments, there should be “clear and effective long-term strategies to utilize renewable across the continent, said Carlos Lopes, U.N. under secretary-general and Uneca executive secretary.

Mr. Lopes, speaking at a ministerial energy conference and addressing Africa’s energy ministers, called for an urgent action to improve the use of renewable sources in Africa, saying that an estimated 250-gigawatt installed capacity will be needed to meet power demand by 2030.

“The way out of Africa’s energy poverty requires a carefully and strategically devised long-term low carbon development path,” he added.

More than just matching the rising demand in Africa, sufficient energy supply is crucial for the continent to reduce poverty and promote economic growth.

“Africans will continue to be critically impaired by energy poverty, that will seriously slow down the socio-economic development of the continent...The challenges are indeed daunting, and more than ever, a concerted effort by all actors is required to achieve any significant progress,” said Uneca in a report. – EcoSeed Staff

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