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China is trans­form­ing the en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture land­scape in Africa with large-sale elec­tri­fy­ing projects

ChinAfrica - - Business -

IN a re­mote vil­lage of south­west Ethiopia’s Omer River Val­ley, about 1,800 km away from the cap­i­tal city of Ad­dis Ababa, the light of knowl­edge shines out of dark­ness - quite lit­er­ally.

In the shabby class­rooms of lo­cal ele­men­tary schools, even the most ba­sic light­ing fa­cil­i­ties are not avail­able. Of­ten, stu­dents have no choice but to take classes in the open court­yards.

In fact, even in big cities such as Ad­dis Ababa, power out­ages are com­mon oc­cur­rences. More than 600 mil­lion Africans still live with­out elec­tric­ity and most fam­i­lies use tra­di­tional biomass as cook­ing fuel, ac­cord­ing to the World Bank. Power short­ages in over 30 African coun­tries have re­sulted in ma­jor out­ages and over-re­liance on quick tem­po­rary so­lu­tions that are both ex­pen­sive and harm­ful to the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Africa loses roughly about 4 to 5 per­cent of its GDP be­cause of its weak en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture,” said Ak­in­wumi Adesina, Pres­i­dent of the African De­vel­op­ment Bank. Liu Zhenya, Chair­man of the Global En­ergy In­ter­con­nec­tion De­vel­op­ment and Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, noted that, in fact, Africa has abun­dant re­new­able en­ergy re­sources, which can play a ma­jor role in re­solv­ing its en­ergy short­age. He said that Africa’s en­ergy in­dus­try has a great po­ten­tial, as the con­ti­nent ac­counts for 10 per­cent, 32 per­cent, and 40 per­cent of global hy­dropower, wind power and so­lar en­ergy re­serves, re­spec­tively.

With­out uni­ver­sal elec­tric­ity ac­cess, Africa, says Ethiopian Prime Min­is­ter Haile­mariam De­salegn, will not be able to im­ple­ment the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment. He said Ethiopia has made clear that re­new­able en­ergy can be a key driver of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, em­pha­siz­ing on sus­tain­able clean en­ergy as an in­te­gral part of the coun­try’s as well as the con­ti­nent’s eco­nomic re­struc­tur­ing.

New re­new­able en­ergy so­lu­tions pro­vided by Huawei on display in Cape Town, South Africa in May 2017

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