Africa, with all its natural resources, is the ideal location for renewable energy infrastructure investment and development. With renewable energy investment set to grow from $3.6-billion in 2012 to $57-billion by 2020, the 'gold rush' has started. The large volume of foreign direct investment into the South African Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) established by the South African Department of Energy to identify investment opportunities in the electricity sector is evidence of this gold rush.
Africa’s potential as the next energy frontier will be highlighted at the upcoming Africa Energy Indaba Conference & Exhibition taking place from February 19 to 21 February at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
Many African countries boast impressive economic growth figures, which is in sharp contrast to the European and American markets. Global multinationals are looking for new markets and have identified Africa, with a growing population and a requirement for yearly investment into this sector of $40.5-billion, to be able to meet the needs of the continent.
The view of Nepad’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) is that renewable energy in the form of solar, hydro, wind and geothermal energy has the potential to provide electrification to rural communities and this is widely welcomed. The driving vision of PIDA is to harness all African energy resources to ensure access to modern energy for all African households, businesses and industries.
By developing efficient, reliable, cost effective and environment-friendly energy infrastructure, PIDA envisions the eradication of poverty and vigorous sustainable development of the continent.
Government ministers across the continent, on more than one occasion, have highlighted regional integration as a preferred strategy to develop the energy potential, particularly the hydroelectric potential of Africa, as a major clean energy option for energy generation. They have also committed to promoting other renewable energies and regional gas as a preferred strategy.
The Africa Energy Indaba plans to tackle the issue of what can be done to ensure that appropriate renewable technologies are selected and deliver their full potential across Africa.
Key issues to be debated include:
• the importance of renewable energy sources for Africa’s development;
• barriers to the adoption of renewable energy in Africa;
• policy and legal limitations;
• the cost of renewable technologies; and
• accessing the grid.
Africa has opportunity! This is no longer the question, but the issue remains attracting foreign direct investment to meet the requirements for the development of renewable energy infrastructure. Herein lies the business opportunity for global, African and local businesses to explore and these will be highlighted and explored at the Africa Energy Projects Roundtable taking place at the Indaba as an official side event.
The ‘gold rush’ has started and business needs to harness this opportunity for the benefit of the continent and explore the platform to engage, network and meet the right people for the growth of their businesses.