China, US join to make Africa solar

Updated: 2016-01-06 01:09

By Hua shengdun(China Daily USA)

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China, US join to make Africa solar

Asoka Ranaweera and his Chinese partner Chuanshui Zhong (far left) with delegtion from MOFCOM and CIPA during the first official visit to Indiana with Mayor of Indianapolis Mr. Gregg Ballard. provided to CHINA DAILY

In West Africa, on aggregate, there are about 300 million people in countries where less than 100 megawatts of solar energy has been provided. The opportunity of growth in Africa is tremendous, Ranaweera said.

In East Africa, only 23 percent of Kenyans, 10.8 percent of Rwandans and 14.8 percent of Tanzanians have access to an electricity supply, according to the World Bank.

Although China has the cheapest solar panels available and China’s favorability has been on the rise in the last few years, there are not many Chinese companies in the African solar market, according to Ranaweera.

In 2011, China had a 50 percent favorability polling in five African countries — Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and South Africa. By 2014 it had reached an average of at least 60 percent favorability in the same countries, according to a BBC poll.

Investment in Africa over the period of 1998 to 2012 includes about 2,000 Chinese firms with a stake in 49 African countries. Firms often have multiple projects, which results in a total of 4,000 investments, a report by Quartz said.

The pursuit of an international market in the solar business came after the financial crisis of 2008. Before that manufacturers did not have to look overseas because everything was doing well in country, Ranaweera explained.

“Around 2011 or 2012, in America people began to realize that, in fact, Africa was growing very quickly and that growth opportunity offered American companies the ability to export their products and services and make an investment in new economies,” Ranaweera said.

“We are just at the beginning of an energy revolution in Africa. This could benefit hundreds of Africans by giving them affordable and sustainable energy at competitive prices,” he said.

Pan Jialiang in Washington contributed to the story

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