Powering Africa through Feed-in tariff Policies

Burnt-child-with-lamp-Large-200x300In Africa, power is inaccessible, unaffordable, and unreliable for most people. This traps people in poverty – students find it difficult to read after dark, clinics cannot refrigerate vaccines and businesses have shorter operating hours.

Today, 25 African countries face an energy crisis. The African continent is well endowed with energy resources but most remain untapped. Solutions to this problem include: boosting cross-border power trade, improving existing utility companies, improving access to electricity on a large scale, while helping countries chart low-carbon growth paths.

A new study produced by the World Future Council and the Heinrich Böll Foundation suggests that using a feed-in tariffs policy could be the best way to develop and promote renewable energy in countries of Africa and thus the energy crisis may be eliminated. 

First of all, a quick summary of what feed-in tariffs are is essential:

“Feed-in tariffs (FIT) are a policy mechanism  designed to accelerate investment in renewable energy technologies. Producers of renewable energy are paid a set rate for the electricity they produce, usually differentiated according to the technology used (wind, solar, biomass, et.al.) and the size of the installation. FITs guarantee that anyone who generates electricity from a renewable energy source—whether they are a homeowner, small business, or large electric utility—is able to sell that electricity into the grid and receive long-term payments for each kilowatt-hour produced.”

The World Future Council believes that 64% of the global wind capacity and 87% of global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity can be attributed to FIT policies.

Some of the highlights from the report, picked out by SolarServer Magazine;

“Several African countries have already opened up their electricity market to independent renewable energy power producers,” stated World Future Council Africa Office Director Ansgar Kiene.

“However, these countries have even more potential for local economic development if their policies are amended, by including a more streamlined and transparent administrative process and a lower entry threshold.”

Currently there are 65 nations participating in some form of feed-in tariff. In Africa, the nations of Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda all have some form of FIT in place.

There will be several policy briefings by the World Future Council for stakeholders across Africa, due to the report’s findings, which should be an encouragement for all of those involved in helping Africa develop its renewable energy sector.


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