“Africa 2030 illuminates a viable path to prosperity through renewable energy development.”

– Adnan Z. Amin – Director-General, IRENA

 

Our Renewable Energy series by Polyglotter Jason Todd takes us through the renewable energy transition that will lead to a cleaner, more sustainable Africa – for the sake of our continent and the world alike.

 

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says that Africa’s future is renewable.

But is this achievable? Is this economically viable? Is this future-proof?

I say that they call it sustainable development for good reason.

 

But let’s zoom out for a second, first.

Igniting the Conversation

We’re facing an undeniable truth on this continent.

A stronger Africa – with a thriving economy, robust trade links, abundant business opportunities, highly educated and skilled workforce, innovative research and development, and sustainable growth – will need power.

People need power. Businesses need power. Not just today and tomorrow; but for as long as we live. And yet, for 650 million Africans, having access to electricity is becoming more of a privilege than a right.

From Cape Town to Cairo and Dar es Salaam, to Dakar, the demand for energy in Africa has never been a more compelling call to answer.

But why is this pan-African petition for renewable energy so vital for its people – and indeed, the planet?

 

In Dire Straits

For starters, if we look at Africa’s population growth rate, 650 million will be closer to 700 million by 2020.

Let’s put 700 million into context. That’s 10% of the world’s population.

Now take a quick look around you. How much of what you’re currently doing, or the environment you’re currently in, requires electricity?

In fact, this very article was brought to you by none other than good old blood, sweat and tears electrical power. But, like with many other things we rely on in our day-to-day lives, it is all too common that we take energy for granted. If we find ourselves without it, however, the shock will be felt everywhere.

 

Lighting Africa’s Fire

It is said that knowledge is power. What we may forget, however, is that knowledge also needs power. Energy is the lifeblood; the driving force that means the difference between thinking and creating.

By our very evolutionary nature, humans are curious and creative. But our capacity to communicate, innovate, and execute our ideas the way we do today would be dead in the water without electricity.

Entrepreneurship and innovation are two concepts that are fast becoming markers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

But what will become of Africa’s light-bulb moments if its next generations remain in the dark?

Ironic that brilliance and light go hand-in-hand, isn’t it?

Private renewable energy providers will deliver. And on top of this, they will surely tick the socially responsible box when they start satisfying Africa’s demand.

It’s a ‘two birds, one stone’ situation: companies and civilians will demonstrate environmental awareness and have the energy they need – all with just the right planning and infrastructure.

So, now, for the final call – all aboard the ride towards a sustainable Africa! Fuelled by clean energy, the vehicle for our next generations will be one that is here to stay.

 

May the children of coming generations sing:

 “Finally our Africa’s great spring arrives,

but today there’s a different buzzing in our hives;

for now we have new energy to pollinate your lives,

and it’s our time to also ensure that everyone thrives.”

 

The future of our young (and unborn) successors, unbeknownst to them, rests in our hands. Learning from the past and looking to the future, we must act in the present.

After all, children don’t let fear get in the way of adventure and discovery. Isn’t it time we adults did the same?

 

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