Tribune ADEA
20 September 2018

[ADEA - Abdoulaye Kanté on the rostrum] "Renewable energy production: Africa’s requirements need tackling urgently!"!"

[Abdoulaye Kanté on the rostrum - Agency for the Development of Enterprises in Africa]

African countries are up against three major energy issues: securing energy supplies using modern infrastructures, meeting the needs of a population set to double to 2 billion by 2050, and supporting economic growth in the order of 4–5% per year. Africa needs an extra 10GW capacity year on year to pursue its development. This is an urgent challenge that will generate real business opportunities—provided everyone is well prepared.

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For the first time, these issues are shared by local political and institutional stakeholders. The energy transition has become one of the continent’s top priorities. In last March’s treaty that created the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the 54 African countries committed to a set of ambitious objectives in the “New Vision” Agenda 2063.

By 2030, 50% of energy production must be from renewable resources, rising to 75% in 2050 and 100% by 2063. These objectives are well within reach. With its outstanding sunshine and dense river basins, Africa is teeming with potential for renewable energy production (REP) development.

In every country in Africa, energy policies are being implemented at two levels: accessibility of energy in isolated rural areas and the promotion of sustainable, ethical urban development.

In rural areas, the aim is to size energy production to match the population’s real needs, installing production units close to dwellings while tackling other problems like water transport and the development of communications. As for developing new, sustainable towns, this is already on the 2030 agenda for most countries and features two keys issues: improving energy efficiency and supporting massive renewable energy production for less energy-greedy towns. All the capital cities have initiated at least one project toward meeting these promises. 22 smart city projects are funded or in progress. For the first time, towns are involved in well-directed change!

Financial backers are also at the frontline. From 2019, 100% of the funding from the World Bank, AfDB and others will be in the scope of REP projects. By 2030, $40–50bn per year will be dedicated to their implementation. There will be stiff competition, so Europe must get in line quickly to tap this fantastic potential. China and India have been doing so for a long time, able to offer turnkey projects in very short development times and with a very responsive funding system driven by China’s public Exim Bank. The Chinese have already invested $38bn in continental Africa, and at the recent China-Africa summit, FOCAC 2018, they announced further no-strings funding of $60bn over the following years. China has been Africa’s leading trading partner since 2009, with trade rising from $170bn in 2017 to $400bn in 2020.

Europe has a lot of catching up to do and must come up with proposals that can be implemented quickly. Proposals in which groups and smaller businesses alike can offer technology transfer, partnership with the local private sector, and maintenance—points the Chinese often fall down on. The French majors have awoken to the opportunities afforded by Africa. EDF, Vinci, Engie, Akuo, Total, Suez, and others have taken up position with public-private partnership projects. A prime example is West Africa’s biggest solar farm, the Zagtouli power station in Burkina Faso covering 60 hectares and able to produce up to 33MW. It was built by Vinci Energy’s subsidiary Cegelec with photovoltaic panels from the German supplier SolarWorld. Its €50m cost was funded by the European Union and the French Development Agency (AFD). Similar projects are under way in other countries, such as the Kita (50MW) station in Mali, the Ten Merina (30MW) in Senegal, and the Nachtigal (420MW) dam and hydroelectric plant in Cameroun.

As regards SMBs, their main actions must be directed at projects for equipping isolated rural villages. Plans are in place for a hundred villages a year per country to receive electricity, with budgets running from €1m to €5m. SMBs can also get involved with own-use energy installations for administrative or company buildings. On top of that, there is a great deal of subcontracting potential in the scope of the bigger corporations’ projects.

The 18th edition of the Eurafric forum, organized by ADEA , will take place at BePOSITIVE from 12th–14th February next year in Lyon and will be the opportunity for European stakeholders to discover the reality of African expectations and seek their position in this continent of opportunities. The forum is being run in partnership with PEAC, the “Central African Energy Pool”, which brings together 11 countries in that region. Ten selected projects that have already obtained funding promises will be presented by their initiators. These projects include solar electric and hydroelectric installations as well as rural electrification.

Putting together international projects like these requires technical proficiency, perseverance, and knowing the right channels, notably for funding. ADEA assists companies with a global package, in step-by-step project management mode. The key to success lies in a company’s ability to understand needs, get organized, and be ready to work in a consortium!

Logo ADEA.pngAbdoulaye Kanté
Director ADEA | Agency for the Development of Enterprises in Africa


[FOCUS ON ] Agency for the Development of Enterprises in Africa

ADEA is a network of companies based in Lyon since 1994. With big corporations and SMBs alike among its members, it informs, advises, and assists businesses with identified projects in the African water and energy sectors. Also since 1997 in Lyon, ADEA has organized the Eurafric Forum, bringing together African deciders, international backers, and companies to discuss water and energy issues in Africa. More than 15 African countries participate in these invaluable yearly events. Every year it assists ten or so African businesses and keeps track of around 5 identified projects. It enjoys support from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region toward favouring the development of regional businesses in Africa. Learn more

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