How can 600 million people be left in the dark in an area with an estimated 1,100 GW of untapped energy potential? This week the World Energy Council will be meeting at the 9th Annual African Energy Indaba to find a solution to this question.  Presently, the continent harbors plentiful resources that have the potential to develop powerful solar, hydro, geothermal, wind, and bio-energy.

So, why is Africa struggling to deliver electricity?  The short answer to the question lies in Africa’s lack of necessary components to channel the energy opportunity in the region. The population does not have the level of technical support required to jumpstart the continent’s renewable energy sector.  There is also an absence of support from African government and institutional agencies. Without their support it is difficult to get projects out of the planning stages and into action. Africa’s biggest obstacle for the renewable energy sector is funding.

The funds necessary are by no means small fees. Africa will require billion dollar investments to launch clean energy projects. One estimate has been calculated for 3,200 low-carbon energy projects that would come with a price tag of about $157 billion.  This may seem like an insurmountable cost, but the benefits are just as large.  Low-carbon energy projects, like these, have the ability to eliminate 740 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in one year.  In addition to creating clean energy, these projects would be changing the lives of millions of African residents who, at the moment, have little to no access to power sources.  Bringing power to these members of the population could lead the continent’s economic, social, and political landscape in a positive, new direction.


Even with all of these substantial benefits, the question still remains, how can clean energy projects be funded in Africa?  To kick-start progress, the World Bank has provided extensive support for projects included in the Africa Climate Business Plan.  Their financial support has resulted in a pledge of $3.6 billion.  While this is a substantial contribution, $3.6 billion is a small amount in relation to the estimated total cost of $19.3 billion necessary to complete the project.

Politicians, engineers, and energy experts will meet this week to address this funding issue along with several other issues hindering projects for the African energy sector.  Of course, funding is a central concern for the attendees, but progress is also a major agenda item.  The World Energy Council wants to ensure that the $3.6 billion pledged to date are used efficiently and effectively.  In order to do so, attendees of the conference will be discussing ways in which clean energy projects can be kept on schedule to ensure that progress is continuous.  This progress will be crucial for the continent to be able to maintain their commitment to the international community to assist in the reversal of global warming and its detrimental effects.

Clean energy is not just a beneficial opportunity for growth, but rather, a necessity for the progress and development of the African continent.  With their vast reserves of viable renewable resources the region will be able to accommodate the needs of their increasing population and subsequent increases in energy needs.  This meeting is a step in the right direction for the development of new clean energy projects, financial solutions, and political support that will shape the future of the African continent.