Over R 130 billion (roughly $10 billion) is spent on energy products such as charcoal, kerosene and candles across Africa annually. However, the work being done in South Africa with solar power means that number could drop drastically over the next decade or two.

But what’s the state of renewable energy on the continent now, and what does the future look like for the two?


Solar power and South Africa


Solar power and panels for a Gener-8 article on how South Africa is Leading the Way for Renewable Energy

Jo Dean is the South African Solar Photovoltaic Committee chairperson, and she recently spoke at the Power & Electricity World Africa 2017 conference in Johannesburg. Here, she discussed the current state of solar and renewable power in Africa and spoke about how positive things seem.

Looking to the future, she was excited about a “vibrant offgrid solar industry” that’s poised to take off on the continent. She also mentioned hopes that offgrid solar power could lower energy costs for over 130 million households in Africa.

Taking care of the planet is a major influence on why we do what we do for a living as a solar panel franchise. However, the fact that millions of people could financially benefit from the work of the brilliant minds in South Africa and all over the continent, and potentially soon, is further evidence of how important solar power and renewable energy is.


The future of Africa’s renewable energy


South African flag for a Gener-8 article on how South Africa is Leading the Way for Renewable Energy

Many believe that this impressive progress South Africa is making is in part thanks to the government-run Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) and the work they’re doing. Speaking about that progress, Jo Dean said:

“During 2016, 100 MW of small-scale power plants were installed across South Africa, representing a 100% increase on the 2015 amount. One estimate is that as much as 15 GW of capacity could be installed through private power purchase agreements across South Africa within the next five to ten years.”

For the people that have been working with renewables in South Africa for recent years, this is a positive sign that things are genuinely progressing.


Why we can’t stop fighting yet


Solar power image for a Gener-8 article on how South Africa is Leading the Way for Renewable Energy

However, this does not mean that Africa is already at the finish line. While there is a lot of promise, it is also clear that there are still some laps left in this race.

A lack of funding for these sectors means that progress will be slower than most wish. The technical skill level to install and maintain the equipment is not as prevalent as desired, either. The growth we’re making as an industry is positive and the definitive results we produce are hard to argue with, yet the market is still considered niche by some.

It’s up to us to change that.