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The Role of Renewable Energy in Bridging the Electricity Gap in Africa

  • Regional Renewable Energy - Africa (D Arent and N Lee, Section Editors)
  • Published:
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Purpose of Review

This paper explores the role renewable energy can play in supporting sustainable electricity access in Africa, with a particular focus on the challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Recent Findings

The studies in this review highlight various power system analyses across multiple regions in Africa. These studies provide high-resolution multi-criteria data for geographic siting of renewable energy, assess the scale of generation expansion needed to achieve universal access, and demonstrate innovative modeling techniques that plan for on-grid and off-grid systems concurrently. This review also highlights the challenges of power sector finance in Africa and discusses the emerging literature on broadening energy planning beyond techno-economic approaches. Altogether, these studies enable a deeper understanding of the benefits of renewable energy adoption and integration in the region.


Africa is experiencing a persistent, complex, and multi-faceted electricity gap. Renewable energy presents opportunities for Africa to achieve full electricity access in an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable manner.

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  1. Population growth forecasts are taken from the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017). World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, custom data acquired via website.

  2. The current generation capacity per capita of South Africa as of 2016 is approximately 800 MW/million.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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The authors thank JuanPablo Carvallo for his insightful review of this paper. N.A. thanks the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for its support.

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Correspondence to Daniel M. Kammen.

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Nkiruka I. Avila and Daniel M. Kammen declare no conflicts of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Regional Renewable Energy - Africa

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Avila, N.I., Kammen, D.M. The Role of Renewable Energy in Bridging the Electricity Gap in Africa. Curr Sustainable Renewable Energy Rep 5, 205–213 (2018).

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