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Africa’s delayed manufacturing revolution

Ramping up new renewable energy projects in Africa could be revolutionary, promising new investment and an economic boost.

In order to ensure that locals benefit, domestic manufacturing could play a key role but, thus far, it has been largely neglected. Strengthening local supply chains could play a part in creating employment and also tackling challenges in local generation.

Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), in a report launched in early 2023, said there were “opportunities for strategic partnerships” between Asian and African states.

“However, these manufacturers require a range of pull factors such as local market potential, availability of necessary infrastructure, favourable enabling environment and a strong local supply chain, to be in place before they will consider investment opportunities in Africa,” it said.

Demand gap

The report, by Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), said the energy transition could drive a 6.4% increase in GDP from 2021 to 2050 and create 8-14 million jobs. Furthermore, increasing domestic generation would reduce Africa’s need to import fossil fuels.

“If we look at the solar supply chain in Africa it is not set to meet the increases in installed solar PV on the continent,” said Rystad Energy senior solar supply chain analyst Marius Mordal Bakke.

“To meet the growing demand from around 4 GWdc this year to a forecasted 10 GWdc in 2025, we have around 800 MWdc of regional module assembly, 550 MWdc of cell manufacturing capacity. And of the early value chain commodities polysilicon and wafer we have respectively around 300 MWdc and 50 MWdc.”

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