Africa accounts for more than half of the world's hydrocarbon discoveries, while over 45% of its energy resources are exported. At the same time, the continent has an abundant source of natural and clean energy: solar. With population growth predicted to double by 2050 and the demand for electricity exploding, we must develop green energy to meet the climate emergency. The technological innovations made possible by digital technology are moving in this direction.
In the face of climate change, carbon neutrality has become a central issue for the future of our planet. 28 countries in the world have already made an official commitment to achieve carbon neutrality. In Africa, the awareness of environmental issues coupled with the growing demand for electricity is pushing decision-makers to establish public policies favorable to the energy transition. This awareness is vital not only for the development of African economies, but also for the well-being of its populations.
The ecological transition must mobilize all of our societies
The last European elections in 2019 showed the explosion of the ecological vote among 18-24 year olds, according to Harris Interactive. This ecological surge is spreading in Africa, and must be included in the political agenda of each state. This was the subject of our Africa Green ICT seminar on green energy, where we shared with international experts our expertise in technological innovations to help the world’s major economies effectively achieve carbon neutrality. Photovoltaics will play a key role in the energy transformation by becoming the main source of energy. On the consumer side, electricity will gradually replace traditional fossil fuel consumption. We expect the use of renewable energy to surpass that of oil in 2050, and the proportion to rise from 20% in 2017 to 49% in 2050. Indeed, the energy transition requires the mobilization of all actors, including the digital sector. The private and public sectors must share their expertise to establish, together, effective strategies for a green future. Governments, infrastructure providers, regulators, and civil society each have their role to play.
Digital technology enables smart management of energy production and consumption
Digital and the technological innovations that come with it hold the promise of sustainable, connected cities where energy consumption and production are optimal and responsible. Smart cities operate through digital solutions interconnected by broadband and allow for intelligent management of energy consumption. Photovoltaic panels enable the capture of solar energy, which is abundant on the continent. These innovations, which are powered by artificial intelligence, are proof that digital technology is already playing a major role in the transition to renewable energies, a role that is set to grow in the future. To do this, we need to accelerate investment in infrastructure. Not only will these strategies bridge the energy gap in Africa, but they will ultimately benefit all socio-economic sectors on the continent. This requires strong and proactive public policies. The dialogue between digital actors and public decision-makers is therefore essential because the skills of each are complementary. I am convinced that the digital revolution underway in Africa converges perfectly with sustainable development and the production of renewable energy. This is the direction in which we are working at Huawei, with the development of Huawei FusionSolar, for example. Several solutions have already been installed in Africa, such as Rural Solar Power and Smart Micro Grids, which use solar energy for even more connectivity!
By Philippe Wang,
Executive Vice President of Huawei Northern Africa