Role of cleantech in Africa's energy transition

Agbaje Ayomide
2 min readJun 8, 2023

Africa’s energy demand is projected to double by 2040. Yet, according to a report by PwC, only 9% of the energy it generated in 2021 came from clean energy sources. While North Africa has the largest clean energy capacity on the continent, Central Africa’s capacity is set to almost double, given its 15,201MW worth of under-construction projects.

As the world transitions to alternative sources of energy in line with climate change, cleantech can play a key role in Africa’s path to a sustainable future. Africa’s economy faces challenges from energy price hikes, resource shortages, and environmental issues. Cleantech has the potential to scale the decelerating economic growth of Africa. So, there is a pressing need for African countries to expand their energy supply and prioritize their energy transition plans.

Cleantech involves using technologies that focus on environmentally friendly products, services and practices to provide clean, sustainable energy. Startups in this space are developing innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions while making profits and scaling in growth. As an emerging sector with immense potential, capital has followed suit.

With a rise of cleantech startups launching their innovations across Africa, over $803 million in investments has been received between 2018 and 2021, according to a Weetracker report. There has never been a better time to invest in cleantech in Africa. However, there are technical and financial barriers to the adoption of Clean-tech in the national energy systems of African countries.

For Glory Oguegbu, a clean energy consultant and founder of Renewable Energy Technology Training Institute (RETTI), low investments into Africa’s clean energy space is one of the biggest obstacles to deploying cleantech solutions.

“Despite Africa being the region with the highest solar generation potential over the long term, investment in renewable energy in Africa fell to an 11-year low in 2021, comprising just 0.6% of the global total, according to BloombergNEF,” she said. “Africa has 60% of the entire world’s solar capacity. It means that Africa could take a lead in the space of clean technology for electricity generation.”

Oguegbu however recommends that African governments provide cleantech startups with more opportunities for exchanges and business shadowing. “That way, the startups can realize the opportunities in the sector — not just to combat climate change but to promote access to electricity.”

In the long run, there is a need for the research and development of cleantech innovations. Therefore, climate-smart investments should be made into early-stage cleantech startups across Africa for commercial viability. Receiving strategic financial, technical, and advisory support for the incubation of novel clean energy ideas and technologies will accelerate the continent’s energy transition and close its unmet need for reliable, affordable clean energy.