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Africa can 'quadruple share of renewable energy by 2030'

The continent holds 'some of the best renewable energy resources in the world', says IRENA

Nearly a quarter of Africa's energy needs could be met through renewable energy within 15 years, according to a new report.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) found that modern renewable technology could help Africa meet 22 per cent of its energy needs by 2030, more than a four-fold increase from five per cent in 2013.

Deploying modern renewables would help bring electricity to rural villages and stop power shortages, spurring on industrial growth and helping to increase prosperity across the continent, the report found.

"Africa holds some of the best renewable energy resources in the world in the form of biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind," said Irena director-general Adnan Z Amin. "This, combined with the precipitous drop of renewable energy technology costs, creates a massive opportunity for African countries to both transform and expand their energy systems while providing a pathway for low-carbon economic growth."

The continent's Great Rift Valley boasts strong geothermal energy; the central and southern regions have the most biomass and hydropower potential; wind resources are strongest in the north, east and southern regions; while solar resources are rich across the continent.

Amin claims that tapping into these renewable energy resources is "the only way African nations can fuel economic growth, maximise socio-economic development and enhance energy security with limited environmental impact".

The report found that solar and wind projects were already producing electricity at "record-low" prices and that a shift to modern renewable cooking solutions could save around $20bn to $30bn annually by reducing health complications from poor indoor air quality.

The next step is for African governments to help accelerate the deployment of renewable technologies, he said.

Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa were singled out as leading the effort to fast-track the use of modern renewable energy sources, while smaller countries such as Cabo Verde, Djibouti, Rwanda and Swaziland were also praised for their "ambitious" targets.

The report offered 14 recommendations for governments to accelerate their uptake further, including adopting regulatory framework to maximise socio-economic benefits and introducing measures to attract investors.

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