-Continent is home to 60% of the best solar resources globally

Solar will lead Africa's energy transformation because the continent is home to 60 percent of the best solar resources globally, the latest Energy Outlook Sustainable Africa Scenario Report 2022, says.

But surprisingly, the continent has only a mere 1 percent of installed solar PV capacity.

"Solar PV is already the cheapest source of power in many parts of Africa and will out-compete all sources continent-wide by 2030," the report indicates.

It says that once coal power plants under construction are completed, and Africa no longer builds any new ones, support for coal plants abroad, underpinned mainly by China, will come to an end.

The report also notes that if the investment initially intended for these discontinued coal plants were redirected to solar PV, it could cover half the total cost of all Africa's solar PV capacity additions to 2025.

The Energy Outlook Report emphasises that flexibility is key to integrating more variable renewable with grid interconnections, hydropower, and gas plants playing notable roles.

"Regional power tools contribute to improving the reliability of supply - a major problem in Africa. Expanding and modernising Africa's electricity infrastructure remains a radical improvement in the utilisation of public utilities, which have been burdened by recent economic crises."

A key recommendation from the report is for regulatory reforms to be a priority, particularly cost-of-service pricing reforms, which are in place or under discussion in 24 African countries.

The report further states that demand for energy services in Africa is set to grow rapidly and maintaining affordability should remain an urgent priority for most governments including Botswana.

The report notes that as the population and income for Africa grow, demand for modern energy will expand by a third between 2020 and 2030.

However, under existing subsidy shifts, current price spikes risk doubling energy subsidy burdens in African countries in 2022 - which is an unintended outcome for many facing debt stress.

The report indicates that international support must play a role in the near term, to manage prices, and influence better targeting of subsidies to households that are most in need.

"Efficiency helps demand growth, reduces fuel and imports, the strain on existing infrastructure, and keeps consumer bills affordable," the report notes.

Findings also indicate that energy and material efficiency will reduce electricity demand by 230 terawatt hours in 2030 - which is 30% of electricity demand.

"Building codes and energy performance standards which restrict the sale of the least-efficient appliances and lighting make up to 60% of these savings. Energy demand for fans and air conditioning will still quadruple over the decade as urbanisation and climate change rapidly increase the need for cooling in African countries, calling for strong efficient cooling solutions," an excerpt from the report says.

The research has also established that as Africa's industries - commerce to agriculture - expand so too does the need for the productive use of energy.

"In southern Africa, energy demand in agriculture, industry and freight grow by almost 40% by 2030. Increased production of fertilisers, seed and cement, as well as manufacturing of appliances, clean energy technologies and vehicles, help to reduce the burden of imports in Africa - which stands at over 20% of GDP today.

"Some parts of the industry expand their use of the latest, most efficient technologies. In agriculture, which represents one fifth of Africa's GDP, irrigation pumps are electrified, reducing diesel generator use, and cold chains are extended, boosting agricultural productivity and the scope for their products to reach urban markets."