Ambition Africa: New models of the green economy are being invented in Africa

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During the Ambition Africa meetings, organised by Business France on October 22 and 23 in Paris Bercy, a round table was devoted on the first day to renewable energies, another on water and waste and, the next day, a last one on urban transport. And new models are emerging.

Ambition Africa, the new meeting of cooperation between French and African companies, which is set to become an annual event, was organised at the end of October in Paris by Business France. The first round table, related to the green economy, opened on Monday, October 22, 2018. It was devoted to renewable energies, which currently represent only 5% of the energy mix on the African continent.

Long live solar-gas hybrid power plants

Yoven Moorooven, CEO of Engie Afrique, and member of the panel proposed by Ambition Africa, confirmed the “exceptional potential of wind and solar geothermal energy”. For the last-two energy sources, Yoven Moorooven believes that “the intermittence problem can be perfectly managed by hybrid systems, also running on gas.”

Linda Mabhena-Olagunju, CEO of the South African operator, DLO Energy Resources Group, which has already installed 42 MW on site, also believes that “the combination of photovoltaics and gas is proving very effective. »

Sambou Wagué, Mali’s Minister of Energy and Water, confirmed that “to achieve the 10% renewable energy mix in his country, planned for 2020, hybrid power plants with solar and gas are a path Mali wants to take. »

Mathilde Bord-Laurans, Head of the Energy Division at the French Development Agency (AFD), wishes to qualify this assessment. For her, “gas is not always available and its price is variable in the long term”. She therefore advises “to consider this question on a case-by-case basis and not to forget hydroelectricity” as a complementary energy to solar energy. Knowing that in this case it is often necessary to be able to connect to the centralised electricity grid.

Two thirds of electricity production will be generated outside the central networks

In this regard, Alban d’Hautefeuille, Director of Total Solar’s Africa and Middle East division, praised the merits of “decentralised solutions that make it possible to bring electricity quickly to a greater number of people in order to reduce the continent’s under-electrification”.

They all agree on the complementarity of the approaches. Yoven Moorooven even goes so far as to predict that “620 million Africans will be connected in the coming years, as follows: 1/3 via the National Grid, 1/3 with mini-grids and 1/3 in “Solar home system” (solar kits, editor’s note) which are viable solutions, not necessarily subsidised”.

Françoise d’Estais, Head of the Finance Unit, Energy and Climate Department, UN Environment, recalled that beyond energy production, the major challenge was energy efficiency, which made it possible to reduce consumption by 5 to 20%. She also recalled that subsidies for hydrocarbons remained much higher than for renewable energies.

Veolia bets on prepaid cards for drinking water

The other round table, related to the green economy, focused on access to water and waste management. Also present, Sambou Wagué, recalled on the occasion that only 67% of the rural populations in his country had access to drinking water and that a priority action programme should make it possible to increase the access rate by 2% per year. Around the table were also four water and waste operators: Veolia, Suez, Eranove and Derichebourg, all competitors in tenders in Africa. As a result, the atmosphere was a bit constrained. Nevertheless, we retained information that had barely been distilled by Patrice Fonlladosa, CEO of Veolia Africa and the Middle East and Chairman of the Africa Committee of Medef International. Namely: “the implementation by Veolia, almost everywhere in Africa, of prepaid meters”. An information that is obviously decisive, since the renewable energy boom in Africa is closely linked to the new means of payment in “pay as you go”. Revolutionising the economic model of water supply in Africa could change the situation. In this regard, the partnership set up with the start-up City Taps seems particularly promising:

Ambition Africa 2018 : Round table "Water and waste" © Benoit Frenette

Ambition Africa 2018, the speakers at the round table “Access to water, waste management: two major challenges for Africa”. From left to right: Tauziac, Director and General Secretary of Eranove Group; Sambou Eric Wagué, Minister of Energy and Water of Mali; Maryline Baumard, Chief Editor of Le Monde Afrique (moderator); Paul Bourdillon, Deputy General Manager of Suez Africa, Middle East, India; Thomas Derichebourg, CEO, Groupe Derichebourg; Patrice Fonlladosa, CEO of Veolia Africa, Middle East and Président of the Medef International Africa Comitee; Murielle Diaco, CEO of Djouman. © Benoit Frenette

Without urban densification, no efficient urban transport

On Wednesday morning, the round table on urban transport was held to support urban mobility. Amadou Koné, Minister of Transport of the Republic of Ivory Coast, announced on the occasion that in addition to the subway that will arrive in Abidjan in 2013, Smoove, the French specialist in self-service bicycle hire, will move to the country’s economic capital. In parallel, bicycle paths will be built. Ibou Diouf, head of the World Bank’s African Transport Policy Programme (SSATP), praised the importance of high service buses (BRTs) and recalled that the densification of cities, and thus the introduction of more verticality in housing, was a sine qua non condition for the profitability of transport services. This applies to all network infrastructures: water, sanitation, but also waste and electricity.

Christoph Haushofer


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