Clearly something is going wrong when 500 million people do not have access to electricity in the 21st Century. Yet this is the situation on the African continent, where 500 million burn wood and kerosene for fuel (cutting down ancient forests as they do so!). Years of investment in Africa, from governments, aid groups and individuals has failed to rectify the situation. Africans continue to cut down trees for fuel.
Philanthropist and businessman, Alvaro Sobrinho abhors the situation and is demanding that action be taken to resolve the problem. However, unlike reformers of the past he is not calling for government intervention, no, he is calling for the private sector to take action, and at once.
Africa has vast energy resources, and not just dirty fossil fuels. With more than 10 terawatts of clear, solar energy just waiting to be absorbed by solar panels,1,300 gigawatts of wind power and 15 gigawatts of thermal energy, Africa is a supremely wealth continent, if only it could make use of the resources available.
Alvaro Sobrinho has suggested that working with business to build Africa’s energy capacity is the best way to proceed. Indeed, it would seem that he is quite right; already private companies and making huge contributions to the development of Africa’s energy needs. In Kenya, Google has made a substantial investment in the Lake Turkana wind farm. The wind farm will cover 40,000 acres of land and supply 310MWs of energy through its 365 wind turbines.
Complimenting the efforts of governments and international funds, the private sector can clearly make a valuable and much needed contribution to securing Africa’s energy independence over the coming years.