by Olusegun Iselaiye

    Oil and Gas Opportunities and Prospects of Renewable Energy in Africa

    With a blistering pace of several crude oil deposit discoveries, Africa has become a continent to partner with. For any investor with an eye on the huge opportunities, Africa’s oil and gas exploration and production has made a major impact on global resource potential.

    With the recent significant reserves found in Ghana, nearly all the East African countries, and almost every “nook and cranny” of the continent has caused an international interest that is mounting. This is the beginning of something big and those that want to be a part of it are already looking into Africa’s windows of opportunities.

    Oil and Gas Deals in Africa

    It is a well-known fact that an era of signing deals has come in Africa. Many international companies
    are beginning to knot their deals with the continent. In January this year, for instance, an Italian gas and oil giant ENI announced it has signed a cooperation accord with its Chinese peer PetroChina, covering China and international prospects, especially in Africa.

    Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total and many other multinational oil companies are not left out in these mega-deals, as the opportunities still seem untapped in many African countries!

    Prospects of Renewable Energy in Africa

    Sizeable renewable and new energy resources are available in Africa. And, surprisingly, these resources are being underexploited. Only about 10 percent of the continent’s hydro potential has been harnessed.

    The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) was established in 1946 to give industry, management and country analysis. Its recent studies of 2010 predicted that fifteen out of the twenty fastest-growing economies in the year 2010 would come from the continent of Africa. And that Africa’s energy sector is on the edge to lead the way—with a vigilant eye on renewable energy.

    Geothermal power is predominantly concentrated in eastern Africa. However, many fragmented spots of high-intensity geothermal potential have been found across the continent. There is huge potential for geothermal energy in Great Rift Valley—a place with approximately 6,000 kilometers length, spanning several countries in East Africa including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

    Existing and Upcoming Renewable Energy Initiatives in Africa

    The world’s third biggest fully completed renewable energy project in the year 2010 was in Kenya, Africa. That’s the expansion of the Olkaria II power plant by 35 MW, which increased the plant’s total capacity to 105 MW, now the largest geothermal plant in Africa.

    Major wind projects are in Egypt, and others are near completion in countries like Morocco. Many are still under construction in Ethiopia and Kenya.

    Hydropower is also a potentially powerful resource for many countries such as those in East Africa; solar continues to make headlines with the Desertec Initiative in North Africa and other projects throughout southern Africa are gaining momentum; and biofuels is on its way to being commercially viable in Ghana, Malawi and Mozambique – just to name a few.

    Africa’s Renewable Energy Devlopment Plans

    The Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) said the country is planning to produce about 15903 MW of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2015. A report by the technical committee set up by Federal Government to evaluate the country’s renewable energy potentials said the nation has about 15 sources from which it can expand its existing power generation capacities. These sources include the wind, biomass, hydroelectricity, tidal, wave, solar, geothermal, compressed natural gas, radiant, wood and so on.

    According to the Vanguard Newspaper’s February 5, 2011, report, a Nigerian firm, Quintas Renewable Energy Solutions was named by the Climatology Division of the World Bank as one of the 10 inventors selected across the world for contributing towards reduction in carbon emission through their products in 2010. This further confirms that the continent of Africa is leading the way in renewable energy development.

    According to reports from the World Bank, Egypt’s greenhouse gas emissions have been among the fastest growing in the world. By 2020, Egypt hopes to generate 20 percent of energy from renewable sources. It aims to realize a 7200 MW wind-power capacity, to cut vehicle emissions through improved public transportation, and to make industry more energy efficient.

    The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization for promoting the adoption of renewable energy worldwide, reports that to date 148 states and the European Union have signed its statute; amongst them are 48 African, 38 European, 35 Asian, 17 American and 10 Australia/Oceania states. This means Africa constitutes more than 32 percent of IRENA’s membership—a further confirmation that the continent has serious plans for renewable energy.

    Africa is tremendously endowed with myriad oil and gas and new energy opportunities that can sustain the world. Savvy investors with foresight are tapping into these opportunities. We are excited to witness the realization of energy opportunities in Africa—as this era provided the promise of prosperity, like never before.

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