What is it about?

The growing human population and rising energy demands have led to a rapid depletion of non-renewable energy sources with a steep increase in carbon emissions. Transition to a renewable energy (RE) economy is, therefore, imperative to achieve sustainable development. However, the full potential of RE resources remains to be harnessed, particularly in developing and under-developed countries. A 2020 review presents the status of RE resources in sub-Saharan African countries, the current challenges facing their utilisation, and future directions in efficient RE management. While RE resources are abundant in sub-Saharan Africa, their optimal utilisation is limited by a lack of technical knowledge, infrastructure, and skilled personnel. Moreover, funding towards basic necessities like food and education is prioritised. Insufficient financial and political support coupled with food insecurity, poor income, and high installation and maintenance costs have significantly slowed down the pace of RE utilisation. The study proposes the following to remedy this situation: strong institutional and regulatory framework, harmonised financial resources, better security and capacity, and a suitable environment to attract investors.

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Why is it important?

Energy supply in African countries is currently insufficient to meet the rising demands of these developing economies. Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable, with over 70% of people lacking reliable access to electricity. Notably, this region is rich in RE resources, such as wind and solar energy, hydropower, and geothermal energy. Yet, there is a huge dependence on biomass, firewood, kerosene, and other inefficient and polluting fuels. Identifying the challenges in RE exploitation could, therefore, help realise the potential for sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. KEY TAKEAWAY Collaborations between the government and other energy stakeholders, strong regulatory policies, capacity building though acquisition of equipment and technical expertise, and enhancing of socio-political support can help improve the management of RE resources in sub-Saharan Africa.

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This page is a summary of: Renewable energy for sustainable development in sub-Saharan African countries: Challenges and way forward, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, September 2020, American Institute of Physics, DOI: 10.1063/5.0009297.
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