Solar energy, while it remains one of the most abundant and clean sources of energy in the world, and especiially in Africa, where the continent recieves more hours of bright sun than any other region, still remains a small share of the total energy mix.
Even though African nations boast a lot of insolation from the sun, a lot of african homes, businesses, organizations, and geographic locations that could benefit immensely from solar energy are often still reliant on coal. In this blog post, we will explore the current state and future prospect of the solar energy industry in West Africa.
According to the International Energy Agency(IEA), West Africa has 60% of the world's best solar resources, but only 1% of solar generation capacy,. The region has a total installed solar capacity of about 1.3 gigawatts as of 2020, which is less than 1% of the global total.
There are many barriers to solar energy development in West africa. Some of these problems include high upfront costs and lack of financing options for solar projects, this is further compounded by the fact that there are almost zero factories in west africa that natively manufacture the electrical components used in solar systems, so many of these systems have to be imported.
In addition, there are little to no government subsidies for solar energy, and low tarriffs and often high subsidies for fossil fuels, which make solar less competitive, In nigeria, for instance, the price of Petrol is heavily subsidized by the government. while little such support exists for solar.
There are weak Grid infrastructure and regulatory frameworks that hinder grid integration and power trade and there is low awareness and technical skills amongst consumers and local stakeholders.
At tubim we're interested in solving some of these problems because we genuinely believe that solar energy is a great future energy source for many homes and families.
Some of the positive trends already happening in africa are, for example, falling costs and improved performances of solar technologies, which make them more competitive, increasing demand for electricity and diversification of energy sources, and innovative business models and solutions such as off-grid solar systems, such as the ones provided by tubim.
By going directly to the consumers and solving power for them one at a time, we aim to reduce burden on the national grid while also giving individual consumers the ability to thrive on alternative power sources such as solar energy.
There are many people working on these different solutions, some people are working on increasing public and private financing for solar projects, reforming electricity tariffs and subsidies, revamping regulatory frameworks and institutions to provide clear and stable rules and incentives for solar development, etc.
In conclusion, solar energy is a key resource for West Africa's sustainable development, as it can provide clean, reliable, and affordable electricity to millions of people who currently lack access or face frequent power outages. It can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on imported fossil fuels, while creating jobs and income for local communities.
However, to unlock the full potential of solar energy in West Africa, there is a need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including governments, donors, investors, developers, utilities, civil society, and consumers. By working together, West Africa can harness the power of the sun to light up its future.