How big is Africa’s potential for solar?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Fossil fuels or renewable energy? At the heart of the ‘green’ debate about switching away from coal, gas and oil is the question of whether or not there’s enough in the way of solar, wind and other forms of renewables to replace them at a cost effective price. A question to which we don’t really know the answer.

Which is why the World Bank is investing in a massive global project to work out how much energy there is in them thar hills, quite literally. The $11.6m (R120m) Renewable Energy Mapping Program (REMAP) has been kicked off in Pakistan and Lesotho and will now be extended to other developing countries, including Zambia. The plan is for other sub-Saharan nations to join in over the four year lifespan of the project. The data gathered will be stored by the International Renewable Energy Agency and it’s hoped will influence future policy decisions. From the release:

“We expect this initiative to be highly catalytic,” said Oliver Knight, Senior Energy Specialist at ESMAP.  “Resource mapping is a crucial step in providing the resource and policy certainty that commercial developers need to scale up investment in renewables.  In addition, government authorities will be better informed in negotiations on specific projects, and donors will have a clearer sense of the data and capacity needs, as well as the renewable potential, of clients.”

There’s a neat little slideshow with lots of maps showing the potential for solar energy here. Annoyingly the video can’t be embedded. Apparently renewable energy only accounts for 1.6% of total consumption in sub-Saharan Africa, and with fuel prices on the increase it’s not only the greenies who’ll be interested in the results of this.


Adam Oxford

Adam Oxford

Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar,, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.