Unlocking Africa’s Untapped Renewable Energy Potential through REFiTs

A new study conducted by the World Future Council and the Heinrich Böll Foundation with the support of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, shows that Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff policies (REFiT) are a promising mechanism to unlock renewable energy development in Africa. REFiTs encourage investment in the generation of renewable energy – from individual home owners and communities as well as big companies – by guaranteeing to buy and pay for all the electricity that is produced from renewable sources.

Joseph Nganga, Co-Author of the ‘Powering Africa Through Feed-in Tariffs’ report with Helen Gichenje, UNDP. Photo: World Future Council.

 

The 155 page report, which is aimed at African policy makers, civil society and the private sector, provides an in-depth analysis of existing and drafted REFiT policies in 13 African countries: Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The individual case studies examine the policy drivers and socio-economic effects of REFiTs and present and analyse both supportive and obstructive factors for their effective implementation. The study shows that, when tailored to the local context, REFiT policies successfully increase overall energy production in both on and off-grid areas. Moreover, the decentralised nature of REFiTs provides the opportunity to empower communities as well as revitalising local democracy and self-governance by allowing for alternative ownership and governance models.

The report was launched on Monday in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is one of the African countries analysed in the report.  

Ansgar Kiene, Director of the WFC Africa Office, said at the launch: “South Africa is already opening up the market to independent renewable energy power producers with its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). However, the country has even more potential for local economic development if the programme is amended, by including a more streamlined and transparent administrative process and a lower production threshold.”

Community Power inMali. Photo © Nathalie Bertrams

 

According to the WFC, Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariffs have been successful at increasing the use of renewable technologies worldwide. As of 2012, 65 countries have implemented some form of a REFiT, driving 64% of global wind installations and 87% of global photovoltaic installed capacity. While the majority of these installations have occurred in industrialised countries, particularly Europe, the African continent has significant untapped renewable energy potential.

Kulthoum Omari, Sustainable Development Programme Manager of the Heinrich Böll Foundation South Africa, stressed: “REFiTs are most successful as an integral part of a country’s wider development strategy.” Thus, high-level political support as well as buy-in from civil society and the private sector are crucial factors for the successful development and implementation of a REFiT.”

Woman using biogas in Rwanda. © Nathalie Bertrams

Woman using biogas in Rwanda. © Nathalie Bertrams

 

The report identifies a variety of national and international measures to shift financial resources towards renewable energy uptake. These include levies on fossil fuels or contributions from the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund. While Africa faces increased demand for energy and requires additional energy sources to meet that demand, it has an opportunity to leapfrog development pathways of the global North by powering its economies and societies with reliable, affordable and sustainable renewable energy sources.

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  1. Unlocking Africa’s Untapped Renewable Energy Potential through REFiTs | Green Africa Directory | Sustainable Solutions for the Developing World | Scoop.it - April 2, 2013

    […] A new study conducted by the World Future Council and the Heinrich Böll Foundation with the support of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, shows that Renewable Energy …  […]

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