Harvesting the power of the Omo River, approximately 300m south west of the capital, Ethiopia’s Gibe III Hydroelectric Project is one of the largest energy mega-projects in Africa
By Sophie Morlin-Yron (CNN) |
From an Africa-shaped mega solar plant powering Kigali, Rwanda, to a massive geothermal plant harvesting the power of Kenya’s hot springs, renewable energy plants are popping up around the continent.
Sub-Saharan Africa is desperately short of power and roughly 620 million Africans live without a reliable source of electricity.
She believes the continent could soon become a renewables superpower, and that it can leapfrog carbon-centered energy systems and go straight to renewables.
“Because what we see is that Africa has got the advantage of coming in now without the heavy old systems that a lot of other countries and regions have,” says Kende-Robb.
And soon, other parts of the world will look to Africa for expertise when it comes to renewables and energy, adds Kende-Robb.
“It’s just mind blowing,” she says. “So many innovations happening all over the place. It’s a completely new way of designing cities.”
It is also a question of public health. Many Africans rely on cooking with wood and charcoal, making indoor pollution a big issue — 600,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa die every year from indoor pollution.
Most investment goes to large-scale plants, and to hydropower in particular, but small solar power initiatives are also gaining ground — an estimated 5 per cent of households in sub-Saharan Africa now use some form of solar lighting, compared with 1 per cent in 2009.