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Will China, UAE’s Masdar Successfully Collaborate to Give Africa Reliable Renewable Energy?

UAE Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and chairman of Masdar, with officials from the clean energy company and the Ivory Coast at the signing ceremony. Image via Masdar.

The shift to renewable energy is gaining momentum in Africa with the Ivory Coast signing an agreement with Masdar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) renewable energy company on the exploration and development of a 50-70 megawatt (MW) solar power plant.

In what could be seen as a race to conquer the continent which is lagging behind in energy access, Masdar is getting into a domain that has China as a frontrunner in the provision of power grid alternatives.

In early March, Masdar announced its latest plan in a chain of pacts in Africa.

Ivory Coast seeks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 32% while also increasing its share of renewable energy to over 40% of its energy mix by 2030.

The agreement with Masdar will integrate hydroelectricity, solar power, and biomass as part of a master plan to develop production facilities in the West African cocoa-producing nation.

In a statement, the company noted, “Masdar and the Ivorian Ministry of Mining, Petroleum, and Energy will explore the joint development of solar photovoltaic plants in Ivory Coast, starting with a first 50-70-megawatt (MW) plant.”

Ivory Coast exports some of its 2,369 MW to its West African neighbors. The power is mainly generated from oil and gas. The country targets increasing generation to 4,000 MW by 2025.

Globally, Masdar targets delivering 100 gigawatts of green energy by 2030. The company says there is an “enormous potential” for the renewable energy sector in Africa.

To further entrench its advancement in the sector, the company has also signed an agreement with Ethiopia where it will work jointly with the government development a 500-MW solar project. Uganda, Zambia, and Angola are other African nations that Masdar has agreements for the development of renewable energy projects.

According to Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE’s special envoy for climate change and minister of industry and advanced technology, his country saw “record growth in renewables” at more than 80 percent of the country’s all-new power-generating capacity in 2021.

In a media report last year, Al Jaber said that he saw many opportunities for collaborating with China in the quest for clean energy solutions. At the time, he said that the UAE had allocated an excess of $1.5 billion in low-interest loans and grants toward renewable energy innovations in more than 40 countries.

Al Jaber said that like China, the UAE is investing more than $50 billion in six continents in clean energy projects. This includes 27 climate-vulnerable island nations.

The UAE is hosting COP 28 in November this year and towards the global event, the country is using investment in clean energy solutions as one of the key approaches to hasten the shift to clean energy.

Despite the demand for energy- clean or not- many African nations still fall short with the exception of Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia whose citizens have 100% access to power.  


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