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Africa Weekly\Business

China can point way on energy, experts say

By Edith Mutethya | China Daily Africa | Updated: 2018-01-19 09:54

Its know-how on renewable resources seen as key to helping Africa generate clean, sustainable power

Chinese know-how in renewable energy development could help generate clean and sustainable power in Africa, where more than 600 million people do not have electricity, energy experts say.

Frank Shang, general manager of strategy for Longi Green Energy Technology Co, says China is currently the biggest investor in renewable energy and has thus gained a lot of knowledge in the field and is willing to share it with Africa.

China can point way on energy, experts say

From Left: Ali Zerouali, director of the International Cooperation and Partnerships Division of the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy; Xing Jiguo, director of China-Arab States Technology & Culture Transfer Center; Eluma Obibuaku, vice-president of power, Africa Finance Corporation in Nigeria; Meng Yujia, chairwoman of Versolsolar Hangzhou Co; and Frank Shang, general manager of strategy, Longi Green Energy Technology Company, during the China-Africa Investment Forum in Marrakech, Morocco, on Nov 28. Edith Mutethya / China Daily

According to the World Economic Forum, an independent international organization, China had the biggest financial commitment to renewable energy in 2015, investing over $100 billion - an increase from $3 billion in the previous 10 years.

The Asian superpower makes up about a quarter of the global capacity for renewable power, predominantly through wind power.

Africa, on the other hand, is seen as having huge renewable energy potential, with large concentrations of alternative energy resources such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass energy. However, only a small fraction of Africa's vast renewable energy potential has been tapped, experts say.

"Africa can learn from China's experience to exploit its renewable energy potential. We can transfer technology and our products to Africa to help its countries to develop locally adapted products," Shang says.

He adds that Africa is poised to become a big market for renewable energy, with expectations to increase production to 25 gigawatts by 2020 from the current 2 gigawatts.

Inadequate government funding as one of the biggest challenges facing renewable energy production in Africa, Shang says.

Meng Yujia, chairwoman of Versolsolar Hangzhou Co, says her company looks forward to introducing advanced Chinese technology for renewable energy production and hopes to replicate in Africa the investment models that have proved successful in China.

"I believe Africa is the new continent in terms of development, especially in solar energy. Africa has sunny days reaching 3,500 hours a year. That is attractive to Chinese investors," says Meng.

Xing Jiguo, director of the China-Arab States Technology and Culture Transfer Center, says Chinese companies are willing to invest in Africa's renewable energy sector, but a lack of information on the political situation is discouraging many.

Xing says Chinese companies looking to invest in Africa should find a local partner to understand the market better.

China can point way on energy, experts say

"Chinese investors are willing to use their expertise to help Africa to develop its renewable energy. It's our wish that the African governments will support the investors," he says.

Ali Zerouali, director of the International Cooperation and Partnerships Division of the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, says he is confident that China will help Africa to develop its renewable energy infrastructure as well as increase the continent's access to modern energy services.

Zerouali says effective renewable energy development requires a clear vision and strategy, capital, knowledge, good political leadership and a clear regulatory framework that allows investors to mitigate risks.

"Africa is currently developing projects that require knowledge that allows wider competition and better pricing. China can provide all that, so I believe the country will bring light to Africa through development of renewable energies," he says.

Eluma Obibuaku, vice-president of power for Africa Finance Corp in Nigeria, urges African governments to come up with policies that will be favorable to Chinese investors.

"A proper regulatory environment is vital for African countries to attract private-sector Chinese investors and capital as well as technology. That is what we need so that we can be able to realize the potential of renewable energy in Africa," he says.

Obibuaku says energy self-sufficiency reduces countries' exposure to the price and supply volatility of importing energy.

( China Daily Africa Weekly 01/19/2018 page27)

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