Developing renewable energy sources for Africa

Developing renewable energy sources for Africa

The successful Dutch-German collaboration Energising Development, or EnDev, is investing in developing renewable energy sources in Africa with a view to improving reliable access to sustainable energy for energy-deprived populations.

Though Africa has vast fossil and renewable energy sources, only twenty per cent of its population has direct access to electricity. In some rural areas, four out of five people are without power. Meanwhile, access to energy services is fundamental to combating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

EnDev, set up in 2004 with a pledge to bring renewable energy supplies to developing countries, has already provided 3.72 million people with energy and supported 24 projects in 21 countries. The Dutch government has now freed up an extra €500 million to be directed specifically at Africa, with €68 million devoted to renewable energy emphasising African projects. It aims to provide at least another 2.5 million energy-poor people in Africa with reliable access to sustainable energy.

A multi-faceted approach

EnDev will increase availability and access to four types of energy. Cooking energy is paramount. In Africa, much of the food preparation is done over open fires, which are inefficient, contribute to global warming and are a health hazard and pollutant. As a result, EnDev is establishing self-sustaining markets for improved stoves or access to cooking fuel in Ethiopia, Benin, Mali, Kenya, Senegal and Uganda.

Lighting is the next priority, with plans to improve or implement rural or domestic electrification in Benin, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda and the sub-Sahara region, with an emphasis on sustainable sources like solar energy where possible. In Mali, EnDev has provided photovoltaic battery charging stations in seven rural municipalities, allowing householders to recharge car batteries to provide domestic energy. Though expensive to set up, solar-powered battery charging stations make economic sense in remote, low income areas without alternative energy sources.

Energy also plays a vital role in developing sound social infrastructure, providing power for hospitals, schools and community facilities. EnDev is sponsoring projects to improve energy supply to these areas in Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda, amongst others.

The final energy type EnDev concentrates on is income generation. Income generation relies on power, whether to run motors to harvest crops or to provide machinery to pack produce in factories. Projects in this area, sponsored by EnDev, will have the ultimate effect of boosting the economy, increasing stability and reducing poverty across Africa.