Africa Express : a journey to discover renewable energy projects
Africa Express is a French nongovernmental organization founded in June 2011 by a young and dynamic couple. Supported by two major companies, EDF and Schneider electric, this NGO aims to promote new projects related to the development of sustainable energies all around Africa. Jeremy Debreu and Claire Guibert traveled by train around the African continent from April to December 2012. This six months tour allowed them to create a white paper that was published in September 2013, identifying good practices and best business-models as well as key success factors in renewable energies development in Africa.
source : africaexpress.org
This project was inspired by 2012 UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All and the fact that on average 65% of the population in Africa does not have access to electricity. In addition to strong demographic growth and taking into consideration that 14% of the world population lives on this continent whereas it only consumes 3% of the world energy, Africa Express white book is presented as a tool to guide and motivates those who would like to develop projects in Africa.
Indeed, 25 projects taking place all over the continent were selected and studied as a reference and possibility to create sustainable and secured access to electricity even for the more remote areas.
The book explains how important investments are if we want to reach the targetof “Energy for all” by 2030. Currently, less than 10 billion dollars are invested every year. This is not enough considering the amount of population that has to be supplied. If investments stay unchanged in 2030, one billion people will not have access to proper electricity.
The paper also highlights the link between electricity access and development. Indeed, without proper access to decentralized energy, neither mechanical productions nor street lights or preservation of fresh produce are possible. Moreover, it is explained that 80% of the 650 millions of Africans living in rural areas do not have modern means of cooking implying the use of large amounts of wood, and as consequences more exhausting work for families and high levels of deforestation in the continent.
However, biomass from wood remains Africa’s most commonly used energy. But the perfect way to implement a better development would be to promote the use of other sustainable energies that are especially abundant in Africa, such as solar, hydraulic, and geothermal or wind energies depending on the regions. Many obstacles prevent proper sustainable development (high costs of investment, poorly interconnected grids, etc.) that will need the construction of new economic models but also a new vision to face the problems.
The projects were chosen to fit in one of these five categories: sustainable cooking, rural development support, feed in energy of economic activities, energy supply for sustainable villages and evaluation of national and regional electric grids.
As an example, the co-founder Jeremy Debreu mentions in an interview the project BPD Lesedi in Botswana, which aims to furnish electricity for 2 million inhabitants by mounting individual solar kits on every rooftop. The original point consists of including the population as a major part of the project.
– white paper about sustainable energy in Africa