A green industrial revolution in Africa: South-South Cooperation takes centre stage

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Harnessing the power of international collaboration, the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative recently convened a group of businesses from Africa and China at the 16th SNEC International Photovoltaic Power Generation and Smart Energy Conference. The roundtable united leadership from 23 energy businesses – 9 African and 14 Chinese – financiers and energy sector experts, marking a significant milestone in their mission to instigate a green industrial revolution across the African continent.

The focus of the roundtable discussion was to identify strategic opportunities to boost Africa’s renewable energy manufacturing and export capabilities. One key topic was exploring the potential of investment, and facilitating knowledge and technology transfer between Africa and China. This crucial dialogue enabled African businesses to articulate their needs for operational expansion directly to their Chinese counterparts.

Sustainable Energy for All and the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, both partners of the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative, organised the roundtable. They joined forces with the African Climate Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and ClimateWorks Foundation in this crucial mission.

Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, emphasised the opportunities inherent in local renewable energy manufacturing for African nations. She said: “African countries can greatly benefit in terms of economic development, climate change mitigation and energy security from local renewable energy manufacturing. However, these industries need support to grow and be competitive, which calls for international collaboration with global leaders in renewables development.”

In a report published earlier this year, the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative identified opportunities for solar photovoltaics (PV) and battery materials refining and assembly across numerous African countries. The report underscored the significance of South-South collaboration, particularly strategic partnerships with countries such as China, India, and ASEAN countries, as a catalyst for unlocking this potential.

However, these potential international partners need to see a range of pull factors in place before investing in Africa. These include local market potential, necessary infrastructure availability, a favourable business environment, and a robust local supply chain. The roundtable sought to confront and address these barriers.

Xiaohua Zhang, China Country Director of ClimateWorks Foundation, remarked, “Strengthening international cooperation on renewable power is key to advancing the global clean energy transition, addressing the climate crisis, supporting economic development, and benefiting people in their daily lives. China, as a global leader in renewables, can play a pivotal role in promoting clean power worldwide. ClimateWorks Foundation is proud to support this South-South cooperation.”

Okenwa Anayo, CEO and Technical Director of Nayo Tropical Technology Limited, and one of the African representatives who attended the session in Shanghai, commented: “We at Nayo Tropical Technology see the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative partnership as a great platform to leverage in our new drive for growth, particularly through integration and scaled-up production in partnership with more advanced manufacturers from Asia and other parts of the world.”

With its unwavering commitment to promoting South-South cooperation, the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative plans to host more roundtables throughout the coming year. The organisation continues to drive investment and mobilise action, paving the way for Africa’s green industrial development.

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