Kenya has been identified as one of the countries with huge untapped renewable energy resources.
A United Nations Environmental Programme report launched on Tuesday at Gigiri, Nairobi, says Kenya, Cape Verde, Madagascar, Sudan and Chad have particularly significant potential.
The report launched at the ongoing UN Governing Council meeting outlines obstacles to the scaling-up of sustainable energy solutions in Africa.
The report says that to meet the continent’s growing energy demands, Africa’s power sector needs to instal an estimated 7,000 megawatts of new generation capacity each year.
In Kenya, a government feed-in tariff introduced in 2008 to expand renewable energy power generation will give incentives to production of an additional 1300 MW — more than double Kenya’s present capacity, the reports says.
The increased investment in renewable energy, it adds, is also expected to trigger significant job creation through construction of power plants, grid connection and maintenance.
Among the rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where only two-to-five per cent of people are connected to the electricity grid, the report says, increasing wind, bio-energy or solar energy supply could be more cost-effective than expanding the existing grids.
The Unep report calls on governments to reform the energy sector with policies leading to a higher level of decentralisation and easier market access for energy producers.
It says that opening up energy markets to private sector investment through the introduction of smart government policies, will be the key to unlocking Africa’s massive renewable energy potential.
In doing so, the report adds, millions can be lifted out of poverty and the sustainable development potential of the continent “far sooner realized.”
“The continent has abundant renewable resources that, with the right kind of public policies in place, could unlock a new development future and light up the lives and the livelihoods of millions of people,” the Unep executive director, Mr Achim Steiner, said during the report’s launch.