Solar energy is seeing a dynamic revival in West Africa, large scale projects are moving towards financial closure, the off-grid market is flourishing and industrial energy users are looking to incorporate solar in their energy mix. The first steps are being made to revolutionise the energy sector in a region that suffers from severe power deficits.
The Solar & Off-Grid Renewables West Africa Conference taking place April 19-20 in Accra, Ghana, will enable large energy users to see how PV, storage and micro grids can provide reliable energy at a fixed price. With over 55 confirmed speakers so far, including developers, financiers and senior government officials from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal, this conference is shaping to be one of the most dynamic places to do solar business in the region.
According to the 2016 World Bank Group/Bloomberg Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report recently released, one in three off-grid households worldwide will use solar products by 2020. The report also claims that there is a US$3.1 billion market opportunity for the off-grid solar industry by 2020, reaching just short of 100 million households. This will see highest concentrations in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia where 95% of the world’s 1.2 billion people without access to the grid are living.
“In July, ECOWAS proposed a 2GW solar corridor in the Sahara region from Senegal to Niger which would involve seven or eight solar plants coming together. There are countries in the Sahara that have enormous amounts of irradiation, far more than their needs. When talking of a solar corridor the first countries to show interest are those in the Sahara” says Maham Kapiah, Executive Director at Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE).
The Solar & Off-Grid Renewables West Africa Conference aims to accelerate the deployment of solar in West Africa, and break down the barriers to development - financial, political, and technological - by bringing together key stakeholders, including investors, policy makers, developers, energy companies, financiers, NGOs, manufacturers and suppliers. West Africa has numerous solar projects in the pipeline and many government incentives to encourage solar in their energy mix, making the region a serious opportunity for solar development. With the various projects and initiatives recently launched, the future of the West African solar market looks bright.