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Solar energy in Africa: green electricity powers pandemic response and recovery efforts

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, solar power contributes to providing a stable supply of energy for hospitals and paves the way for the ‘green recovery’.

The generation of electricity from sunlight gives rural regions in Africa the opportunity to secure an independent and continuous supply of green energy. Since 2005, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been promoting the use of renewable energy in over 20 countries worldwide through its ‘Energising Development’ programme. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and other international organisations, GIZ is also committed to the expansion of solar power. This long-standing cooperation is paying off in the pandemic, as health and social welfare systems, which are currently under extreme pressure, are strengthened by the stable power supply. Small-scale suppliers of solar systems are also staying on track during the crisis with the help of GIZ.

The coronavirus is not the first epidemic for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Building on experience gained with Ebola, GIZ has already been able to provide support this year to nearly 300 hospitals and other health care facilities in setting up and maintaining solar systems in these countries. The systems now ensure that there is sufficient lighting in treatment rooms and provide the necessary power for smartphones or computers. A quarter of the installed solar systems are also able to cool medicines and vaccines. The larger ones even operate entire laboratory facilities. Over the course of the pandemic, an additional 400 health centres are to be supplied with electricity using solar power. This improved power supply is strengthening health care for approximately 3.8 million people in the catchment area of the health stations. 

Solar power is also playing an increasingly important role in Mozambique, where GIZ is helping small and medium-sized companies to gain a foothold in the solar sector. To ensure that suppliers of small solar systems get through the coronavirus crisis, the federal enterprise is collaborating with the Norwegian Government to set up an aid programme, providing financial assistance to small and medium-sized companies if they offer their solar systems at a lower price. This means that, despite the difficult economic situation, more people can nevertheless switch to solar power. Thanks to the work of GIZ, around 30,000 households have already been able to afford small solar systems for their homes and now produce green electricity themselves. At the same time, this is averting the threat of liquidity shortages for small-scale solar system suppliers. In this way, they continue to contribute to Mozambique’s ‘green recovery’.

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