Only one in four Africans have access to electricity according to World Bank estimations, making the energy shortfall one of the most critical barriers to continental development.
However, Africa is increasingly switching on to the potential of its renewable power sources such as solar, geothermal and hydroelectric energy generation, exemplified by projects such as the colossal Noor solar array in Morocco's south.
The $9bn plant on 450ha – the largest solar project in the world – went live in February and, when fully operational by around 2018, will provide around 1.1 million people with power.
The project is only part of Morocco's planned push into renewables, which targets some 2GW of capacity generated by solar and a further 2GW from wind turbines by 2020.
Meanwhile, Kenya's Olkaria geothermal power plants have been expanded with an additional 280MW of capacity added in 2015. Work is continuing on the 400MW Menengai Geothermal Development Phase 1 Project in Nakuru, backed by African Development Bank financing.
The country is also on track for the Lake Turkana wind farm to go online in October. When completed, the 40,000 acre site will be Africa's largest wind farm, and the $690m facility will generate an additional 310MW for the national grid.
South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement programme has also won international plaudits since its launch in 2011, marshalling more than $15bn in investment expected to boost capacity by 6.3GW. ●
Ethiopia - Power from power
Ethiopia stands out for determination to achieve its energy goals. When the World Bank declined to provide loans for the Gibe III dam, Ethiopia secured the finance from China. Its appeal to the diaspora and citizens at home to contribute funds for the colossal 6GW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), due to go live in 2017, enabled the project to go ahead without external funding. The country's focus on power generation has enabled it to tap into the lucrative energy export market, earning $123m selling electricity to neighbouring Djibouti and Sudan in the first eight months of the 2015/2016 fiscal year.
Environment: Clean and green
Morocco's high-profile overhaul of the rundown Nador district and Marchica Lagoon on the country's Mediterranean coast won praise from international environmental and conservation groups. Launched in 2008 by King Mohammed VI, the $104m scheme saw the cleaning and dredging of the 1,000ha saltwater lake plus the development of the coastline region around it. Meanwhile, the Great Green Wall project to build a 15km-deep corridor of trees from West to East Africa to combat desertification holds the potential to make a marked impact in one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change.
FRONTLINE - INNOVATIVE AFRICA
FRONTLINE - INNOVATIVE AFRICA
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