Why does Africa only receive 2% of the global clean energy investment?

While Africa boasts immense potential for renewable energy generation – solar, hydro, and wind resources dwarfing those of most developed nations – it receives a mere 2% of global clean energy investment in 2024. 

This meager allocation underscores a critical disparity hindering Africa’s progress towards a sustainable energy future. The energy access challenge in sub-Saharan Africa remains a major obstacle to development.

 A staggering 77% of the population lacks access to reliable electricity, impeding economic growth, education, and basic human needs such as lighting and refrigeration.

 Achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) – universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable energy – demands a substantial expansion of renewable energy sources. 

Renewable energy offers a clean, dependable, and potentially more affordable alternative to traditional fossil fuel-based generation, which is often costly and contributes to local air pollution.

Despite contributing less than 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa bears the brunt of climate change’s severe impacts. 

Droughts, floods, and extreme weather events disrupt agricultural production, threaten food security, and displace communities.  Adopting renewable energy is not just a means to cleaner power, but a matter of survival for millions of Africans. 

By shifting away from fossil fuels, Africa can reduce its contribution to climate change and build resilience against its effects.


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Despite the urgent need and vast potential, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that achieving SDG 7 in Africa requires a staggering $25 billion in annual investment. 

However, this goal remains elusive due to various barriers. The high cost of capital for energy projects in Africa, combined with limited financing options and perceived investment risks by international investors, creates a significant investment gap. 

Additionally, policy instability and regulatory hurdles within some African countries further deter potential investors. To bridge this gap and unlock Africa’s renewable energy potential, innovative solutions are imperative. Addressing systemic challenges that hinder investment, such as policy instability and regulatory hurdles, is crucial. 

Governments can create a more attractive investment environment by establishing clear and stable policies, streamlining permitting processes, and providing incentives for renewable energy projects.

Financial institutions also play a pivotal role. Early-stage capital and financing instruments tailored for renewable energy projects in Africa, such as loan guarantees and risk-sharing mechanisms, can attract private investments.

 Additionally, leveraging blended finance, which combines public and private funds, can de-risk projects and encourage greater private sector participation.

Africa’s potential for renewable energy and the lack of investment is a clear example of global inequalities. It calls for action by the world to acknowledge Africa’s potential and invest in its renewable energy future. 

Solving this issue benefits everyone. Africa gets clean, reliable energy that boosts development and helps fight climate change. 

The world gains a more stable and prosperous Africa, and a decrease in global greenhouse gas emissions. Together, we can unlock Africa’s renewable energy potential and create a better future for everyone. Explore additional details about this article in this post: https://www.irena.org/How-we-work/Africa.


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