When African nations become new ‘climate energy capitals’

Written by CNN Staff Writer

The world’s emerging economies are expected to drive 1.7 billion new jobs over the next 20 years, but these jobs could quickly be at risk as countries struggle to meet the rising demands of a growing global population.

With this in mind, a new report from the Social Investment Forum (SIF) says Africa is well-placed to be a lucrative new center for the green energy sector , with Ghana leading the way by going green at an unprecedented scale.

The report said that the nation of 28 million is forecast to add more than 300 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity by 2030 to meet demand.

This has been achieved by a combination of government policies, energy investment, financing, and a speedy move toward use of renewable resources, such as hydro and solar power.

Why is it important?

Greenslope Solar has provided solar power to schools in Ghana. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

The country now has 3.2 million active solar panel systems which provide between 70% and 80% of electricity to households. Ghana is also trying to become a hub for manufacturing solar panels locally by supporting local companies. This has resulted in the development of 11 manufacturing plants and about 5,000 direct jobs on the Ghanaian coast.

More recently, major international corporations such as LG, Samsung and Samsung SDI have set up solar panel plants, leading to even more manufacturing jobs.

More than 90% of the solar systems installed in Ghana between 2017 and 2022 are expected to be installed by government programs under the Public Financing of Renewable Energy (PREFU).

“This report reveals the ability of Ghana to bring radical change to the renewable energy sector, even though it is a mere 10 years old,” said Sodila Dumfries-Woyakaddo, the CEO of Ghana Green Capital Project and the CEO of SIF.

“Together with the findings of our new ‘Green Industry Atlas’ report and our other research, this gives us a better understanding of the opportunities for Ghana as the power generation sector transitions from the ‘dirty phase’ of its development towards the ‘clean’ phase.

“It is no surprise that Ghana is an obvious role model for the rest of the world. Even more surprising is the pace of implementation. Ghana started with green policies, but is also leading the way in the area of investment. Ghana has just installed the largest solar power plant in Africa. SIF will be working with the Ghanaian government and investors on a roadmap for greater investment and utilization of energy in Ghana in the coming years.”

Partnering with the government

The Ghana Green Capital Project and SIF have been working with the government to successfully navigate the potential dangers of an unbundling of the electricity sector. With regard to the scrapping of a tariff regime for end users, Ghana’s government has made clear that the country will follow one tariff system, regardless of where electricity is generated.

“Our advice to the Ghanaian government has been that it should not only resist any temptation to dismantle the electricity sector along ‘subsidy lines,’ but should work with the private sector to help finance electricity system upgrades and grow the private sector power generation capacity,” said Matt Nicholls, President and CEO of SIF.

Despite the problems many countries face at the end of their “clean energy life-cycle,” having been dominated by coal until 20 years ago, the number of coal-based power plants across the world has fallen from more than 300,000 in 2004 to 8,300 in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency.

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