Solar Energy Expansion to Emerging African Countries: Kenya and Botswana

Beruchya Dao-Bai

Today climate change is caused by three centuries of unrestrained industrialization and development in the north, as well as the burning of fossil fuels, which has led to global warming, hitting Africa the hardest. Given that Africa is the second driest continent behind Australia and also happens to be emerging through development, the vulnerability of the continent is further exacerbated in light of climate change.

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This push for growth is coming at a pivotal point in time due to the political, demographic, and economic changes happening on the continent; sustainable development must be upheld so Africa does not repeat the errors of the rest of the developed world. This is particularly important in terms of choosing renewable energy sources that limit the release of greenhouse gases that fuel climate change. 

According to the Brundtland commission, Sustainable Development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Further insights on the definition emphasize the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability. This holistic approach to development seeks to reach a common ground with the environment, economic growth and society; and is especially important in Africa to ensure that the continent grows without further exacerbating the current climatic threats.

Undeniably, both countries reflect the reliance of African countries on fuel wood, and fossil fuels which have detrimental effects on forests and catalyzes climate change.  Additionally, both countries show a promising future in terms of intergovernmental and international initiatives to fuel development, most importantly sustainable development through clean energy. Kenya on the one hand could learn from Botswana’s education initiatives for the expansion of solar energy, its Centre of Excellence in Solar Energy, and R&D disposition favorable to solar energy.  Botswana could learn from the clearer institutional framework of the energy sector that Kenya seems to have, as well as having a more vibrant solar market scene. Indeed, it must not be forgotten that Botswana has a significantly lower population, compared to Kenya, which makes their responsibilities different in terms of scale.

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Furthermore, both countries, respectively, shed light on a brighter continent in many promising ways. These include a brighter continent in terms of electricity coverage, upped access to ICT which fosters (human, economic, societal) development, and most importantly achieving sustainable development goals and limiting the temperature increase on our planet that will help prevent major natural disasters in the future. Lastly, the case studies performed point to the importance of collaboration with more developed nations for the support needed for an impact of a greater magnitude than what is currently being performed in both countries and in Africa as a whole.