by Dion Boyd
An intriguing article by Joshua S. Hill, on the Clean Technica blog posted in December of 2015, examines an attempt by the head of state of African nations to lead a coalition called the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). The primary objective of the AREI is to provide the continent of Africa with 300 GW of renewable energy by 2030. AREI aims to produce 10 GW by 2020, so already we can infer that significant progress is intended to be made over those ten years. This article caught my attention because it is closely related to a documentary I recently watched called Burning in the Sun. This film portrays the mission of West African and Italian Daniel Dembélé on his quest to bring electricity to the rural communities of the Sahara Desert. Immediately after reading the article about AREI, I made the connection between the article and the film. I began to realize that (contrary to popular belief or at least contrary to the non-existent amount of information you hear from media outlets about positive initiatives taking place in Africa) there are people in the world after all who are aware of people living in regions of Africa that do not have access to energy resources, and are taking a stab at resolving some of those issues.
An article in PV-magazine also discusses AREI and mentions that the African Development Bank is planning to “triple” the amount of money it’s putting toward climate projects by 2020. $5 billion a year is the number that is allegedly going to propel this initiative to where they foresee it in 2030. This funding will go toward implementing renewable energy sources that will have the greatest impact such as solar panels (very important for renewable energy in Africa as the continent receives a significant amount of sunlight due to its location at the earth’s equator), purchasing and planting crops that will best mesh with the adjusting climate, and constructing water systems that will provide the rural populations with more access to clean water. [http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/cop21–african-renewable-energy-initiative-launched–300-gw-2030-target_100022277/#axzz3y1UQ0uaT] If all goes as planned, it seems like this initiative could be a big step toward providing rural African populations with the necessary resources. Judging by the progression of solar panels throughout the 21st century, African nations should be able to produce an abundance of energy if able to obtain an optimal number of solar panels. I also think the abundance of energy will benefit their economy as well, by allowing nations to cut costs on energy spending.