Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa says mini-power grids based on solar energy are the solution to Africa’s energy problem.
Masiyiwa made the prediction at a global conference of investors in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
“The technology for solar power and battery storage has reached a stage where the cost and capability will deliver power to all within a generation.
“Twenty-five years from now, it will be difficult to find anyone in Africa who does not have access to power because of the profound technological solutions that make it possible for entrepreneurs to solve this problem,” Masiyiwa said.
He reminded his audience that 25 years ago when cellphones were being rolled out for the first time, less than 1% of people in Africa had access to a telephone.
“Today, 75% of the people have a cellphone, with some countries now recording over 100% penetration. Fifty percent of the African population will be connected to the internet within 10 years. Would you have believed this was possible in 1993?
“With renewable energy solutions, we are at the same point as cellphones in 1993. The technology is available, and what remains now are visionary entrepreneurs backed by real capital.”
He said cellphones were rolled out by private sector companies, and not by state enterprises, and that the same would happen with power, if policymakers and regulators allowed it.
“This is not the time to protect failing state power companies. It is time to allow the private sector and entrepreneurs to solve the problem,” he said.
The Econet Group has launched two solar businesses, DPA Solar Africa, which builds solutions for large industrial and commercial customers, and its latest business, Ugesi Solar, which provides residential and communal power solutions.