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How to better power Africa? Innovation: professionals

2016-October-14       Source: Xinhuanet.com

Professionals attending an international energy conference here on Thursday called for new and innovative methods in efforts to power the African continent.

Professionals attending an international energy conference here on Thursday called for new and innovative methods in efforts to power the African continent.

Attention was drawn to the fact that despite being blessed with a vast and diverse wealth of energy resources, Africa is still the least electrified continent on the planet, as two out of three Africans lack the access to electricity.

Professionals agreed that new innovative methods are needed to tap Africa's vast oil and gas reserves as well as its potential for renewable energy sources, including solar and hydropower.

For Africans to have sustainable, reliable and affordable power, officials and experts participating in a panel on empowering Africa under the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul called for "bottom-up" and "off-grid" solutions and projects by international institutions and African countries.

Small and big hydroelectric plants as well as solar, wind and geothermal energies would be important and beneficial to the realization of Africans' universal access to electricity by 2030, observed Simon D'ujanga, Uganda's energy minister.

In Uganda, only 20 percent of the population has access to power now, according to the minister.

"We have started micro-financing programs for which we provide resources and in return they provide resources for the villagers," he said. "So that a small household may easily borrow money from a bank to buy a small solar panel."

Elham Mahmood Ahmed Ibrahim, the commissioner for energy and infrastructure with the African Union, urged African states to adopt technological and innovative ways to finance regional projects.

She stressed that encouraging regional integration through interconnected projects must be part of the efforts to empower Africa, especially in supplying electricity to the remote parts of the continent.

The African Union started a new program in 2012 to encourage regional projects, under which 15 power plants have been built and most are already operational, according to Ibrahim.

Simon Bransfield-Garth, chief executive of Azuri Technologies, noted in his article that small-scale renewable home power systems are bringing power for the first time to millions of off-grid consumers in sub-Saharan Africa.

"The technological advances in LED lights, batteries and mobile payment created a clean energy revolution in rural electrification," wrote Bransfield-Garth.

Editor: Will

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