Africa, the world's second largest continent with 55 countries and over 1.2 billion people, is undergoing a transformation and rapid development. These countries are going fast and so are their energy demands.
It's said that over the next 25 years, electricity needs will triple in southern Africa and quadruple in eastern Africa. Until now, Africa has relied heavily on electricity generated from fossil fuels, but there are a cleaner and more sustainable ways to fuel this growth.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) says Africa could be one of the most promising markets for renewable energy in the next decade due to its abundant solar, wind, biomass and other resources, which can be harnessed to drive low-carbon economic growth, reduce the continent's dependency on environmentally-damaging fossil fuels and power Africa's future.
Renewable electricity could displace up to 20 billion kilowatts (KW) of fossil fuel generating capacity, reducing total operating cost by one billion US dollars a year, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Green development and cooperation is one of the ten major plans for China-Africa cooperation outlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the China-Africa forum held in Johannesburg, South Africa in December, 2015. Solar power, one of the most prevalent clean energies on this continent, has seen multiple collaboration between the two sides.
Egypt, a country straddling Africa and Asia, has over 90 percent of its areas to be deserts. Dry and rain less, it has a huge potential to develop solar energy. The country has set a goal to make 20 percent of electricity from clean energy by 2022, with solar power as one integral part, to both protect the environment and ease power shortage.
The country has partnered with China's clean energy company TBEA since this April for the construction of four solar power stations in Egypt's southern province of Aswan, as part of the giant Benban Solar Plant.
The stations will generate 186-megawatts (MW) of electricity and the plant is expected to generate up to two-gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar capacity through 40 projects after its completion by mid-2019. The project is TBEA's first in Africa, and the plant will be one of the largest in the world, according to Xinhua News Agency.
"We'll never be afraid to go out at night," said citizens of Bangui, capital of Central African Republic, after the completion of a solar energy project supported by China in the city in June, 2016. The project installed 200 solar-powered street lamps for its public facilities and main roads.
The project "effectively relieve Bangui's problems of energy shortage and poor lighting, and greatly improved the night safety in the city," said Jacques Medard Mboliaedas, minister of Energy and Water, praising it a "popular and well-received" livelihood project.
Other African countries, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, to name a few, are also cooperating with China to better realize the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Wind is a typical clean source of renewable energy since it produces no air or water pollution. This nature's gift can successfully used for generating electricity in many parts of Africa. In 2009, HydroChina and CGC Overseas Construction Group (CGCOC), two Chinese-based companies signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction, short for EPC, contract with Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. to develop a 51-MW wind farm at Adama. It was the first Chinese overseas EPC project in clean energy.
In the first stage, China, along with Ethiopia, has completed a project by constructing a wind farm with over a 100, 70-meter-tall turbines that have a total electricity generation capacity of 153-MW.
"China has worked with Ethiopia to train engineers, technicians, experts, so when Chinese firms invest in Ethiopia they can employ skilled Ethiopians and when Chinese companies finish projects, there's a trained Ethiopian workforce that can take over and manage the projects," according to Tan Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia.
Bio-energy, derived from the organic material that includes crop waste, forest residues, food waste, and wood waste, is another form of renewable energy that can produce electricity, heat, transportation fuels.
Wide access to this affordable, sustainable energy is and will be increasingly crucial to the growth and development across Africa, where most of the people count on the land to survive.
By partnering with the local government, a huge biomass power plant, financed by Chinese company Shenyang Lan Sa Trading Co Ltd, in Mansoa, central Guinea-Bissau, west Africa has gone into initial construction last year.
The project, design to supply power to the cities of Bissau and Mansoa, boasts a 30-MW production capacity, which will be powered by agricultural waste, such as rice hulls, corn and other grains, according to the Macauhub, a Macau-based media.
Successful cooperation stories between China and African countries are blooming across the continent.
The interim secretariat of China-Africa environmental cooperation center was inaugurated in Nairobi, Kenya, on August 17, which aims to promote the transfer of green technologies between China and Africa, share green development experiences, and provide a bridge for bilateral exchanges.
For the efforts China has made along the way, the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that "these projects are good examples of how organizations can form partnerships through South-South cooperation. They are the positive actions taken by China and African countries to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."