Advances in the technologies that generate, distribute and store renew-ably-sourced energy have allowed more sustainable methods of power generation to become more affordable and reliable. Low-carbon technologies and renewable energy developments make futures where communities are supported, the environment is protected and electricity is made accessible, possible.
Unlike their fossil fuel counterparts, sustainable power production is growing and has shown itself to be an energy solution that could solve Africa’s capacity problems while fostering opportunities for growth and, in the case of a global pandemic, economic recovery. Africa and South Africa are in desperate need of abundant electricity supplies that our people can rely on and end the scourge of load-shedding and power shortages.
Social and economic recovery in a post-Covid-19 world will require new and expansive thinking that incorporates new ideas, new technologies, and new possibilities. Clean energy and the incredible innovation that accompanies it will likely be a huge component of that recovery and the broader development of Africa’s energy systems.
How can renewable energy support recovery?
Amidst this global crisis that has affected so many peoples, nations and industries, the renewable energy sector is proving just how resilient it can be. Despite much of fossil fuel prices and production levels taking a hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency has explained that renewables are the only energy source that is increasing its demand in 2020.
Solar and wind generation is primed to confront the ongoing economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Its resilience in the face of financial catastrophe is more reason to incorporate renewable technologies and reskilling workers into the economic recovery strategy for Africa. The flexibility and cost-effectiveness of solar and wind power in particular, combined with improving energy storage systems, could provide Africa with the dependable and sustainable electricity network she so desperately needs.
South Africans will be well-aware of the troubles that come with unreliable and insufficient energy systems. Africa’s post-pandemic recovery will require innovative solutions and insightful strategies that incorporate a wide range of structural shifts. Having widespread energy transitions to sustainable electricity sources could be a monumental development for our populations. Including, making electricity more safe, accessible and affordable for the masses.
Employing smart power technologies will improve the production, transmission and management of electricity across the continent and may be the opportunity we need to finally meet our energy demands. These advances are inline with the global vision for energy systems that are decarbonised, decentralised, and secure while combating the existential risk that is climate change. At the same time, renewable power could be a catalyst for Africa’s recovery and inspire a quicker energy transition in other places.
How does digitalisation benefit Africa’s energy sector and beyond?
Digitalisation is not only transforming our energy sector’s capacity, management and generation, it is helping the sector grow at an incredible rate. Along with the rapid growth of the industry, digital processes create new job opportunities with new skills and career paths. Millions of jobs have been lost around the world and this growing sector (despite the pandemic) could be a source of rebuilding for many of those financially suffering as a result of Covid-19.
The digital age has created a space where huge innovations are made often and implemented much sooner than any time in history. Advancements in energy technologies, such as energy storage, cleaner coal and nuclear, renewable sources, off-grid technology, household electricity generation, smart grids and transportable solar kits, are all incredible opportunities for investment and broader development in African.
Digital solutions to current problems will inherently evolve the methods and means by which many industries conduct their business. Digitalisation has the capacity to provide invaluable insights into how operations are run and, more importantly, how they can improve. Workers will be upskilled, better payed and more efficient thanks to the evolution made through the digital space and Africa’s economies will have larger, more secure, and more capable energy sectors to aid in its recovery.
Innovation and development during unprecedented times
We are living in extraordinary times and we, therefore, need extraordinary methods to navigate the world we are left after the pandemic has ended. Solutions like stimulus packages, relief bills and recovery acts are being rolled out in incredible numbers in Africa and across the globe. Doing business in the middle of global financial, health and labour crises is truly unprecedented and requires innovation – like those we see in the renewable energy sector – to survive.
Investment into digitalisation, renewable technologies, green jobs, sustainable infrastructure and eco-friendly power storage will help support Africa’s recovery and transition her to a more equitable, sustainable, resilient, and inclusive society. In a thriving renewable energy market, we could have resource-efficient and self-sustaining communities being built all over the continent. We could help develop new and forward-thinking businesses run by Africans who are leading us into a digital, sustainable and optimistic future for all Africans.