Energy Africa – there is a boom going on in small scale renewable energy in Africa. As this blog has covered TEARFUND have a campaign to get the UK government to fund very small scale off grid solar power. I was poking around the Department for International Development’s (DFID) website the other day for another reason and came across a large number of projects relating both to off grid stuff (almost all solar) and some on grid renewables (also solar with other technologies undisclosed).
The programme for small scale solar is called Energy Africa. This somehow hopes to lever in private cash to help provide householders with small off-grid systems. As I put in the post linked to above its hard how to see how this will happen since this is a classic market failure. That is something that will create a large number of private sector jobs installing and maintaining the equipment as well as other jobs from other businesses that flow from this. However its difficult to see how the private sector can make money from providing the systems themselves. (Mobile phones in particularly Kenya does off a model however, although the investment by individuals would need to be bigger.)
Sierra Leone Somalia, Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda are all signed up. One criticism of the scheme is that Africans need on grid electricity. This is true at some point but at the moment providing that would be vastly expensive. By starting here you build capacity knowhow and as hopefully small systems expand you create bit by bit the backbones of a grid system.