Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

Solar rises as an African energy alternative

Jeff Tyler Jun 3, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Solar rises as an African energy alternative

Jeff Tyler Jun 3, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

There’s lots of sunshine in Africa. Now, the trick is putting it to work.

Today, the Solar Central & East Africa Summit kicks off in Nairobi, Kenya. Officials from Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Congo and Ethiopia will  network with trade reps from the solar industry.

Many of these African countries are close to the equator, which means plenty of heat. But solar power doesn’t do so well with rain or humidity. Where solar works efficiently in Africa, the industry is starting to heat up.

Alex Klein, research director at IHS, says solar helps meet the need for new sources of energy.

“Because of the significant drop in the cost of solar over the past few years, solar is now competitive as a way to displace some of that oil use for power generation,” Klein says. “It can be more cost effective.”

Stephen Mullennix is senior vice president of operations for SolarReserve, which has some solar projects underway in South Africa. He says the company hopes to expand into other African countries.

“If you look at population growth, economic growth, Africa is one of the greatest growth opportunities in the world,” Mullennix says. “And that’s sort of across different economic sectors. All of those economic sectors depend on stable available power supply. So that feeds very nicely into what we do.”

Banks seem to recognize that economic potential as well.

“Generally, the financial community is looking quite favorably at sub-Saharan Africa and areas of central Africa. So that’s a positive,” says Mullennix.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.