The journal that you’ve been following for years, or newly discovered, is quietly celebrating twenty-five years in the industry – yes, ESI Africa has reached this wonderful milestone! Why are we not making a fuss about our anniversary?
Well, the past year has been a strain on everyone, whether personal or professional, as the global COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to embrace a new normal. Therefore, the ESI Africa team decided to instead celebrate the collective industry achievements over the past 25 years.
The first, in my view, is a recent development that is changing the makeup of the electricity supply industry. It started slowly, but in the past three years we have witnessed a sharp rise in minigrid business models. These include models that address energy supply, business acceleration and supplier-offtaker models, which fit nicely into rural areas and agriculture markets. Combined with the minigrid trend is the increasing importance of stimulating end-user demand and focus on the productive use of energy (PUE).
– Enlightening the future –
The PUE element is the reason I’ve placed this achievement high on my list. Catering to these lower-end consumption-demand markets will bear fruit in the long term as their electricity needs will increase over time. It is readying these communities for grid-tied electricity supply, which is the ultimate goal. ESI Africa will be around to report developments over the next 25 years. Read the article from EEP Africa on pages 16-19 to discover some of the fantastic PUE projects underway.
While Africa’s installed generation capacity has not kept pace with demand, many countries are now striving to direct policy to make amends. In the past five years, governments have turned to renewable and alternative energies. But the wheels of government policy do turn slowly, which has resulted in a considerable gap in the generation market. However, I would not mention generation as a triumph if there weren’t any wins to celebrate.
For example, in the renewable energy market, Morocco has achieved a rapid increase in solar power, increasing from near-zero in 2015 to 4% of its electricity in 2019. It also increased its wind power from 9% of its electricity in 2015 to 12% in 2019. At the same time, Kenya has seen a rapid acceleration in wind power, rising from less than 1% in 2015 to 14% in 2019.
The continent’s largest user of coal-fired power, South Africa, is also changing its generation makeup. Between its inception in 2011 and March 2019, the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme has procured 3,366MW of wind energy from 36 IPPs. This positions South Africa as the continent’s top wind energy producer. Even so, the country’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP2019) does identify that coal will continue to be used for the next few decades (see pages 22-23 on seeking answers to the question of coal in the energy transition).
There is much more to celebrate from the past 25 years. Still, looking ahead, I am in agreement with energy and sustainability analyst Oghosa Erhahon (see pages 78-79), who shared: “What lies ahead is Africa’s power sector awakening to diverse technology generating options to match the increasing demand…” I will add that e-mobility, mobile money, software-as-a-service and green bonds will be clear winners in our future.
These are just a few of the triumphs to celebrate, and I welcome you to share your personal and business successes with me during the Enlit Africa digital event (see pages 29-49) or on the ESI Africa social media channels.
Until the next edition and digital meet-up.