Renewable Energy Industry in Africa: What Are the Opportunities For Foreign Consultants?

Currently, more than 600 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa, out of a total population of 900 million, do not have access to electricity. Even those with some kind of electrical connection suffer from unreliable supply, lack of sufficient power on the grid, high energy prices, or a combination of these, meaning they lack full access to power.

 

However, the solution is in sight, and it is green. It could be that the majority of the “dark continent” will skip fossil fuel- based energy entirely, and skip straight to renewable energy solutions, from those living in refugee camps, to the cities. The renewable energy industry in Africa represents great opportunities for many, not only the local populations who will benefit from a stable electricity supply, but also local workers and international consultants whose expertise are greatly needed. Not to mention of course the benefits for the environment.

If you are a foreign consultant looking to work in the renewable energy industry in Africa, here is what you should know.

Opportunities in Renewable Energy Industry in Africa

The renewable energy industry is booming in many African countries, most notably Nigeria. Here, it is hoped that biomass will help to bridge the gap between the current electricity capacity of 12,522MW and demand of 98,000MW. This dramatic shortfall, despite Nigeria being an OPEC nation and the world’s 13th largest producer of oil, certainly shows the need for renewable energy solutions. Currently, only 1% of Nigeria’s electricity is powered by renewable energy with a small percentage of this being biomass. However, the country’s rich resources in biomass fuels such as agricultural residues and municipal solid waste means that biomass could represent the solution to the country’s energy crisis.

Across the continent, many countries are already implementing small-scale solar, wind and geothermal technology, particularly to provide energy to remote and under-serviced populations. The World Bank is committed to promoting sustainable energy solutions in developing nations, particularly in Africa. From 2014 to 2018, the World Bank funded $11.5 billion worth of renewable energy projects in developing countries. This continues to be a funding priority for the developing world’s largest financier.

Funding from the World Bank and others has led to a variety of renewable energy projects across Africa, which is only set to increase in future years. These projects have an intense need for foreign consultants, due to the demand for expertise outstripping local availability in many cases.

Guide For Working in African Renewable Energy Industry

Working in the renewable sector in Africa offers the opportunity not only to be part of an exciting, booming industry, but also one which has the potential to make a difference to the lives of millions of people. Working in the sector, and in Africa in general, does come with its own unique challenges, however, so it is important to be prepared.

1. Research Local Laws and Regulations

Firstly, it is important to be prepared that working in a new country will mean that many things will be unfamiliar. One of the key differences will be when it comes to laws and regulations. The company or organisation you are working with should be able to advise you on these matters, but it is also a good idea to do your own research ahead of time to get an idea of local regulations, and how these will impact on your work.

2. Be Open to Local Customs

A big part of working in another country is adjusting to the local customs. Understanding local culture and traditions will not only help you feel more comfortable, but it will also make you more effective in your work. After you arrive in the field, make it one of your key priorities to absorb as much as you can of the local culture.

Additionally, you should be prepared that infrastructure and logistics may be very different from what you are accustomed to: this can impact on everything from internet connection and availability of supplies to transit times.

3. Make Sure Your Training is Upto Date

Availability of training while on site may be limited, so it is important to make sure your qualifications are up to date and that you have skilled up with all relevant training before you leave home. Consult with a UK-based company such as We Do Training to see what courses are on offer, and what may be helpful for you while in the field.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the CEO of BioEnergy Consult, and an international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biogas technology, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. Salman has participated in numerous national and international conferences all over the world. He is a prolific environmental journalist, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. In addition, he is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability through his blogs and portals. Salman can be reached at salman@bioenergyconsult.com or salman@cleantechloops.com.
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