Energy is, by its own definition, one of the very engines that keep the world spinning. However, not all regions of the world have access to it or the capabilities to generate it. The African continent has been suffering from a severe energy deficit, with an estimated 70% of people in sub-Saharan countries without reliable access to electricity. The result is that without electricity it is a lot harder to work, produce and manufacture, which leads to impoverishment and, putting it lightly, suboptimal life conditions. However, there is hope because Africa is right next to one of the leading European regions in renewable energies: the Canary Islands.
As we all know, fossil fuel-based power generation is one of the most capital-intensive forms of energy. However, it is also the largest source of electricity generation in Africa. To put things into perspective, Africa as a whole generates 147GW per year, which is the equivalent of a small country like Belgium. The obvious solution is economic development and turning to renewable energies.
However, this is no easy feat in the African continent, where not only are resources and initiatives missing, but they are also lacking the professionals and expertise to carry them out.
Fortunately, the Canary Islands are just around the corner and even though the gap in Africa is gigantic, the Spanish archipelago can add their two cents on the matter. The Canaries are absolute heaven for renewable energies. If we are talking solar-powered, the islands offer more than 4,800 sunlight hours per year. What about water? They produce an astonishing 600.000 m3 of desalinated water per day (keep in mind the first desalination plant in Spain was inaugurated here in 1965).
Did anybody say wind? Constant winds with average speeds of 6 to 8 m/s provide wind farms the amount necessary to power 43% of the homes in the islands. This is why the African governments are turning their heads to the Canary Islands looking for help and solutions.
The African continent is focusing more and more on renewable energies, putting in as much effort as possible. Looking for answers for their technological infrastructure for water, power and energy supply in remote areas they have found an ally in the Canary Islands. For instance, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), active since 1975, has received help and support from the tremendous know-how and expertise present in the islands. Particularly, thanks to the Canary Islands Institute of Technology (ITC), a well-known research, development, and innovation center.
A great example of this collaboration is AFRICAGUA, a leading biennial conference focusing on water and renewable energy challenges. It brings together public and private sectors, nations and businesses to address opportunities in West African countries, and in 2019 it was hosted by Fuerteventura, one of the seven Canary Islands.
So we’re talking about untapped business potential here that can dramatically improve the lives of many people. The Canary Islands can be your ally in terms of the R&D, know-how and expertise needed to start operating or enhance your current solutions in the renewable energy industry for Africa.