Renewable Energy Strategies for Rural Africa: Is a PV-led Renewable Energy Strategy the Right Approach for Providing Modern Energy to the Rural Poor of Sub-Saharan Africa?
Karekezi and Waeni Kithyoma,
areas continue to be home to majority of the population in Africa.
The importance of providing modern energy to rural areas cannot therefore
be overemphasised. Despite numerous
efforts by Governments and donors in the region to promote solar photovoltaics
for rural electrification, (almost every country in the region has had a rural
electrification PV project), access to modern energy in rural Africa continues
to be woefully low. In addition to
being unaffordable to the rural masses, solar PV has the limitation that it can
only be used for lighting and powering low-voltage appliances.
This article reviews emerging trends in the rural energy sector of
sub-Saharan Africa, and discusses the limitations of over-reliance on solar PV.
It suggests possible options that could have greater impact on rural clean
energy development. For the
majority of rural households in the region, biomass fuels will continue to be
the dominant fuel of choice. Efficient
technologies for the use of biomass would, therefore, ensure that scarce biomass
resources are effectively utilised, and reduce the negative impacts of biomass
use on women and children’s health. Solar
thermal, windpumps, micro/pico hydropower and cleaner fuels such as kerosene and
LPG, have not received adequate attention from policy makers.
These energy options could significantly improve the performance of rural
small and micro enterprises. This
article argues that rural energy policies that emphasise a broader range of
renewables that target income-generating activities are likely to yield greater
benefits to the rural poor than the current policies that rely on the solar PV
Keywords: Rural Energy; Rural Poor; PV;
AFREPREN/FWD © 2007