At Africa Energy Forum 2019 in Lisbon, it was all about real solutions to tackle the real issues we face in Africa. Together with our Senior Consultant for Renewable Energy & Resources Jason Todd, we explored these at great length.
Fact: In Africa, 600 million people still need access to power (IEA). On top of this, the African population is forecasted to increase from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion by 2050. These people need electricity. And they need jobs.
More Africans are looking to leave the continent and explore life abroad – but Africa must not be left behind.
The good news? Investing in renewable energy can and will provide these much-needed jobs, such as in construction and O&M for each new project.
It will also provide scalable, dispatchable local power – i.e. how and when it’s needed. This energy then powers major industries such as manufacturing and agriculture, in turn boosting the African economy and supporting their ever-growing population.
In terms of infrastructure, renewable energy will also hugely benefit telecommunications and connectivity in general. Currently, classrooms short on power mean that children are studying in the dark. And, without access to the web, students must go without even the most basic modern-day educational tools. Technology, as we know, is integral to shared knowledge, making it a driver of social, cultural, economic, and political development.
Fostering Collective Learning
Solar PV in particular has great potential for driving development, as knowledge transfer is easier than with large power stations, for example. Education is key. Indeed, knowledge transfer must take place on-site…and in the classroom.
By bringing in expertise from other countries, such as foreign engineers, Africans may then learn the vital steps to healthy project management and operations. Microgrids offer a valuable opportunity for just this, due to the sheer number of them that would be required.
This transfer empowers local engineers and tradesmen to take on energy projects and enjoy the benefits of reforming and modernising processes throughout the continent’s developing countries.
Similarly, the classroom is a critical place to transfer relevant and hands-on industry knowledge. Whilst there are tertiary courses in Renewable Energy available in Africa, and indeed elsewhere in the world, they tend to be quite theoretical. South Africa’s SARATEC is a wonderful example of hands-on training with proven success.
The Journey Forward
The Polyglot Group intends to become increasingly more involved with knowledge and skills transfer across the continent.
All of this helps to pave the way for a sustainable future… But how? By advocating for clean energy sources and processes, smarter infrastructure, and conscious collaboration on key projects.
Partnering with local organisations and people is just the beginning. Ultimately, we’re invested in the growth of people and their visions, which always has its roots entrenched in education and development.
What will be next for the booming African continent?