Is government intervention hampering private investment into East-African renewables?

Many experts believe the contribution of governments within East-Africa is slowing the speed of growth in the renewable energies sector. Government involvement in the design, development and operation of mini-grids is deterring potential private investments; private investments into East-African renewable energies were predicted to surge in recent years but this has not been the case.
Experts from within the sector are pointing the finger at government agencies that are crowding out the developers using legal and political tools that are in need of reforms. Private companies have indeed shown an interest in investing but they have insisted the power and subsidies given to government companies need addressing if their investment is to be warranted.
Kenya’s ministry of energy has said that overall electricity access has increased within the country from 23 percent in 2009 to 50 percent in 2015; however, the unequal distribution of this electricity is still highly prevalent with much of northern Kenya still deprived of such resource. Regions such as northern Kenya have access of about 5 percent. It says eight out of the 20 poorest parliamentary constituencies “where 74 percent to 97 percent of people live below poverty line” are found in this northern region.
A number of renewable energies companies would happily address this problem, through investment into the northern and other neglected territories of Kenya, however, the unfair position of power given to Kenya’s Rural Electrification Authority (REA), just completely deters these prospective companies.

In countries such as Kenya, which has such vast areas which do not have access to any electricity, mini-grids are definitely a better option to grid extension; it provides better quality and more reliable electricity to remote areas.

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Africa is becoming a renewable energies headquarters!

The West-African country of Senegal has recently begun the construction of a major solar farm in the sub-Saharan desert, it is a 20MW project located in Bokhol and is called ‘Senergy2’. The project is estimated to cost $28 million and is going to be developed by French renewable energy platform – Greenwish Partners, which dedicates much of its work to sub-Saharan projects. Senergy2 was also financially backed by the Senegalese state; with financial support from the UK and Norway through their joint investment vehicle Green Africa Power, according to local news
When completed and operating at full capacity, it’s predicted that 160’000 people will have access to clean power, a move that will drastically increase the countries chances of 20% renewables by 2017. “With no energy, there can be neither growth nor development. With the Bokhol facility, we are now able to take a new step and Senegal comes unreservedly into a new, clean energy period,” said President Macky Sall.

Senegal is eager to attain a position as one of the continent’s leading countries in renewable energy production, as well as positioning itself as the leader in West Africa; currently, South Africa and Morocco are the flagbearers for the continent.