by Tumi Frazier, founder of Tumi Frazier International
While energy access has increased in sub-Saharan Africa, with more people gaining access to electricity over the past 10 years; it has not kept pace with the rising population and other changes in the sector. Research shows that there are at least 600 million people in Africa who still do not have access to electricity, despite the continent’s endowment with all forms of fossils and renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, ocean and bioenergy. That represents a sizeable entrepreneurial opportunity.
In essence, Africa’s progress and economic growth continues to be hindered by the lack of power; hence the World Economic Forum warns that Africa risks missing out on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its economic benefits. So, there is an urgent need to support African countries to strengthen their capacities not only in the energy production but also in the planning, transmission and distribution to be able to optimize investments in the energy sector. Poorly developed policies, regulations, capital markets and relatively high interest rates are some of the challenges in this sector and have a negative impact on the efforts of businesses or project owners to raise capital.
I recently came across an interesting crowdfunding model introduced by The Sun Exchange as a way of financing solar projects. So, this platform allows individuals to buy and lease solar cells to schools and businesses in the sunniest areas in Africa. The Stellenbosch Warldorf School 15kW system is one of the four operation projects activated through this platform and it has afforded children the opportunity to invest in their school's solar rooftop systems through solar cell ownership that they lease out. So, this platform makes it possible for anyone to access solar, even those in the low income groups; it also gives them an opportunity to make money from the purchasing of solar cells that they then lease to others for the deployment in those areas.
South Africa has been a pilot region for the Sun Exchange project as there are more people owning the bulk of these cells compared to other countries that are involved; moreover, South Africa was ranked 7th out of 40 countries in terms of investment attractiveness for solar photovoltaic technology - the type used in solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. The case for growing the energy access through renewable energy solutions in South Africa and the continent as a whole is becoming stronger; so is the need to explore different and creative ways to fund or invest in solar projects. However, good planning, sounds policies and regulations as well as agile and efficient grid all play a critical role in attracting good investments.
Tumi Frazier is a South African entrepreneur, professional speaker, author, TV personality, consultant, and founder of Tumi Frazier International, Tumi Leadership Academy, and Tumi Foundation. Tumi is an internationally acclaimed Leadership and Change Management expert who has worked with high profile clients and organizations across Africa, United States and Europe. Tumi has authored 4 books: Courageous Stories of Inspiration; In the Midst of the Storm; Stepping Stones to Success; and Your Moment. Follow Tumi Twitter | LinkedIn
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