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The African Development Bank is “getting out of coal” its president announced on Tuesday, and will roll out a $500 million scheme in 2020 to promote renewable energy use in Africa, away from a reliance on fossil fuels.
This comes amid rising investment into renewables, which some believe could fix Africa’s chronic power deficit. With sub-Saharan Africa sitting on a potential 350GW of hydro, and 8.8 terawatts (TW) of solar power it’s easy to see why, but harnessing this isn’t simple.
Most of Africa’s solar and hydro potential is concentrated in restive places like the Sahel and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Assuming political instability, poor infrastructure and limited integration can be overcome – big assumptions – developing these resources will take years.
And with total renewable capacity of 46,269MW in 2018, against a backdrop of 600 million Africans lacking access to electricity and demand expected to quadruple by 2040, this won’t make up for fossil fuels any time soon.
It’s also worth noting that outside South Africa coal plays a negligible role in Africa’s energy mix. Oil and natural gas dominate utility-scale generation, with the latter’s potential estimated at 400GW. The wisdom of simply walking away from this is debatable.
Transitioning to renewables is desirable, and in line with wider energy trends, but this has to be a long-term goal.
This report reflects the views of the author alone, not those of How we made it in Africa.
From the continent
Kenya’s first low-cost airline, Jambojet, plans to open new routes in East Africa, and hopes to double its passenger numbers to 1.5 million in the next three years. Founded by struggling national carrier Kenya Airways in 2014 Jambojet currently operates in Kenya and Uganda. More: Reuters
A military court in Algeria on Wednesday sentenced the brother of former longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and two former intelligence chiefs to 15 years in prison. Their convictions are part of a high profile purge of figures linked to Bouteflika, who resigned amid mass protests in April after 20 years in power. More: BBC
The global perspective
The IMF has reportedly warned Zimbabwe’s government that $366 million in payments to Sakunda Holdings, a company linked to an ally of president Emmerson Mnangagwa, has severely undermined its plunging currency. This has fueled concerns about high level corruption amid an already bleak outlook for the economy. More: Financial Times
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for urgent international action to support counter-terror and development efforts in West Africa’s Sahel region. Climate change, growing Islamist militancy and chronic underdevelopment have turned the region into a hotbed of instability threatening to spill over into coastal countries. More: UN News