Solar Energy Has a Future, but Needs Support Now!

Photo Credit: IFC Scatec Solar - Workers at Asyv Solar Plant in Rwanda

The technology is already becoming self-sufficient even as oil prices have dipped, but seed money is needed now particularly where the sun may be most present and effective in delivering clean energy. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a funding arm of the World Bank designed to take on more innovative projects, highlighted the current opportunities and obstacles while announcing a new initiative.  Africa is also the HQ for the UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) generating initiatives and resources to address everything from biodiversity to countering pollution: (See: United Nations Environment Program)


“Sub-Saharan Africa is rich in energy resources but its potential remains mostly untapped. Despite the abundance of sunlight, solar projects have been developed slowly and often inefficiently.” The motive is not only clean energy but badly needed resources for development, or more accurately for health, education and jobs: “In a continent where most people live without electricity, expanding the supply of energy has become an imperative that cannot be delayed. To meet projected demand, Africa needs to increase its power-generation capacity.” There is a vicious cycle now long eroding economic, living and political standards: “Weak competition and high transaction costs are some of the obstacles that hamper the progress of the technology.”

Over the last 2 years, IFC has invested over $2 billion and is further increasing commitments via the new initiative tagged Scaling Solar. This “will allow smaller African countries to enjoy the purchasing power of bigger and more developed economies—allowing several African countries that still rely on diesel-fired power to finally benefit from recent dramatic cost reductions in solar-power technology.” This is just the begging of the road to reduce Africa’s reliance on environmentally harmful, even if less costly for the moment fossil fuels. Further, as with other rapidly evolving technologies such as the internet or payment systems, at least parts of Africa may be able to leapfrog the pollution and inefficiencies on the road toward greater industrialization. (Read More: “Boosting Solar Energy Capacity in Africa.”)




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