The Africa Solar Industry Association (AFSIA) has identified the five largest solar energy markets in Africa. Its latest report also looks at the most significant large-scale projects on the continent.
This means that more people across the continent now have access to clean and reliable electricity, but also that the industry as a whole has a wider area to expand its presence, develop projects and partnerships and grow business. This is a very positive trend for the industry, which will inevitably lead to economies of scale through network effects, while local companies and technicians can specialize in solar energy, expand their business and hire more people.
In 2022, if we take into account installations for large projects, commercial and industrial systems, mini-grids and solar home systems (so residential buildings are not taken into account):
- 30 countries in Africa have installed more than 1 MW
- 16 countries in Africa have installed more than 10 MW
- Two African countries have installed more than 100 MW
The country that led the charge in 2022 may be a bit unexpected, but at the same time it is a perfect example of how solar energy is now reaching new countries across Africa. With 284 MW, Angola was indeed the country where the most solar power was installed in 2022. The top five also include South Africa (111.8 MW), Egypt (80 MW), Ghana (71.3 MW) and Mozambique (41.9 MW).
Solar energy’s growing footprint becomes even more impressive when you look at the projects under development. If we consider the projects announced in the last 12 months, 49 African countries are considered to be working with at least 1 MW of solar power and 29 with more than 100 MW.
Because AFSIA Annual Review 2023 was published, three new large-scale projects have already been commissioned or are about to be commissioned. They include e.g 37.5 MW Boundial solar power plant in Ivory Coast, 1.8 MW plant in Antahala, Madagascar developed by GreenYellow and Axian Group, and The 7.2 MW Lucapa plant in Angolawhich is part of the wider 370 MW portfolio developed by MCA Group in the country.
We should also put the spotlight on Sierra Leone, which has opened its first large-scale project at the end of 2022. 5 MWp Baoma 1 solar power plant as well as 5 MW solar power plant On the island of Romainville, Seychelles, funded by the Abu Dhabi Development Fund. All of these projects are home to countries that have rarely been on the solar radar before. In addition, in many cases they are the first of additional projects that are in various stages of development.
Three other very interesting large-scale projects are under construction at the time of writing. The biggest is 50 MW Marondera Solar Plant in Zimbabwe, whose construction will begin in March. The Gambia will soon be home too 23 MW Jambur project, as Gambia’s national water and electricity company has started construction after receiving a financing agreement with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. Finally, the Axian group (again!) is is currently expanding the Ambatolampy solar power plant by adding 20 MW of solar electricity and 5 MWh of storage space. These three projects alone represent 10 percent of the total capacity of major projects implemented in 2022.
If we go even further up the development cycle, projects from other “solar-initiated countries” should also attract the industry’s attention, as notable projects have recently passed the crucial funding stage. MIGA has provided a guarantee of 5.6 million dollars to cover the related risks 2.8 MW Baidoa hybrid solar power in Somalia. In Liberia, the World Bank has pledged $96 million to build a 60 MW solar power plantwhile the AfDB has approved a loan package of $2 million and €10 million ($10.7 million) to co-finance the construction of the building. 100 MW solar power plant in Kairouan, Tunisia. Further east, Egypt is closing in on its largest wind and solar projects a $1.1 billion support package from IFC to Abydos Solar Company and Amunet Wind Power Company to develop 560 MW PV and 505 MW wind farms.
In the following article, we highlight interesting developments in Cape Verde, Botswana, Eritrea and many other countries that are taking their first steps to host large scale solar projects. But one thing is certain: most African governments have now realized the benefits of solar energy to quickly add capacity to their grids and deliver much-needed electricity to their citizens in a cheap and environmentally friendly way.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect his own views pv magazine.