Africa’s ‘amazing’ renewable energy potential

Africas amazing renewable energy potentialDr Carlos Lopes says Africa is in a unique position to become a world leader in renewable energy. (Image source: International Labour Organisation/ Flickr)The executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Dr Carlos Lopes, has spoken of the continent’s “amazing” potential to become a world leader in renewable energy

Speaking at an event at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House yesterday, Dr Lopes said Africa had the largest renewable energy potential in the world.

Moreover, Africa’s position was unique, he posited, in that its late development relative to the rest of the world meant that it was not locked into any technological preferences.

“It can follow green and clean energy pathway and leapfrog all carbon intensive industrial models,” Dr Lopes said.

“The growing awareness of environmental degradation and climate change is giving rise to new research and design priorities, like clean energy technologies that could be scaled up rapidly.

“The continent is well positioned to absorb, adapt and build on the vast quantities of scientific and technical knowledge already available.

“Its vast hydro-power, geothermal, biomass, wind and solar power potential is an amazing asset. For example, only five per cent of Africa’s hydropower potential is explored right now.”

The world-renowned development economist also predicted that continued growth in Africa will drive the development of its renewable sector.

“The macroeconomic indicators are the best since independence,” said Dr Lopes, adding, “At the turn of the millennium, Africa’s GDP was 600bn. In 2013, that jumped to 2.2 trillion, representing one of the fastest growths in history.”

“In comparison, it took China 12 years to double GDP per capita, India 17 years, the US and Germany between 30 and 60 years.”

Dr Carlos Lopes is an African economist from Guinea-Bissau holding the rank of United Nations under-secretary general, and has more than 24 years of senior leadership experience with the UN.

He is also a member of several African academic networks, and has been the author or editor of 22 books.

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