Investment in renewable energy in Africa has strongly increased in the last two decades but remains relatively low, especially when compared to other world regions. The continent has abundant hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, and bioenergy resources. Notwithstanding this, Africa’s current energy generation mix continues to rely on fossil fuels, while renewable sources account for nearly 18 percent of the electricity output. At the same time, Africa is one of the least electrified regions globally: over half a billion people lack access to electrical energy connections – a number higher than the entire U.S. and German populations combined. Could Africa's renewable potential be a game changer to overcome energy poverty and generate development on the continent?
Renewable capacity on the rise
Worldwide, the use of renewable energy has been growing. Clean power is not only better for the environment, but it is also cheaper, as renewable technologies turned into a low-cost source of power generation. In Africa, particularly, the total renewable energy capacity has almost doubled in the last decade, reaching roughly 54 gigawatts in 2020 – to put this into perspective, one gigawatt can power 10 billion light bulbs. The renewable capacity is, however, uneven regionally and concentrated in a few leading countries. It reaches, for instance, nearly 10 gigawatts in South Africa, while it stands at 1.2 gigawatts in Uganda. Currently, Southern and Eastern Africa concentrate the highest capacity on the continent, some 35 gigawatts together. Considering energy projects under construction, this value might increase to 60 megawatts.
Sun, wind, water... power
Hydroelectric power is the primary source of Africa's renewable energy generation. Home to some of the largest rivers and drainage basins on Earth, the continent has an installed hydro capacity of over 30 gigawatts. In some countries, like Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo, hydropower accounts for more than 90 percent of the total electricity production. On the other hand, modern renewable energy, such as solar, wind, and geothermal, has a much lower installed capacity in Africa. However, resource availability is not an issue. For instance, estimates on the onshore renewable energy potential on the continent reveal that solar PV could generate roughly 1.5 million terawatt hours per year, while wind has a potential of some 980,000 terawatt hours per year.
Resource rich, investment poor
If potential is not an obstacle to increasing renewable energy generation in Africa, lack of investment may be. Between 2010 and 2020, 55 billion U.S. dollars were invested in renewable sources in the continent, which represented only a 2.4 percent share of the global investment. Increasing the investment value is, however, essential to turn renewables into a reliable and affordable source for the population of Africa, and therefore reduce energy poverty on the continent. Additionally, the energy transition is set to play a key role in increasing employment. According to estimates, construction, installation, and manufacturing of renewable technologies could create almost five million short-term jobs and some 370,000 long-term occupations in Africa by 2030.
This text provides general information. Statista assumes no
liability for the information given being complete or correct.
Due to varying update cycles, statistics can display more up-to-date
data than referenced in the text.