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Africa’s future is in solar energy: Strive Masiyiwa

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AFRICA’S solution to energy problems lies in mini-power grids based on solar energy, Econet founder and Executive Chairman Strive Masiyiwa has said.

Masiyiwa said this on Tuesday while giving a speech at the Milken Institute’s Mena Summit of investors in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Technology guru Sean Parker and Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame were among the guest speakers. Patrice Motsepe, Founder and Chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, also gave a speech.

Other participants at the summit included His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud the Chairman of the Board of King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Sir Richard Branson the Founder of Virgin Group

“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.

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.

Masiyiwa 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?

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“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 annual summit is dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide with a focus on how they can harness innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.

The summit looks at trends of governance, best practices, replicable models as well as role of governance aspects such as Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s gathering highlighted Rwanda as a guest country and will showcase Rwanda’s progress in the tourism and agriculture sector. The other two guest countries at this year’s Summit are Estonia and Costa Rica.

The annual global gathering hosts over 4000 participants and invites Heads of State and Government as well as international organisations’ representatives and experts from over 100 countries.


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