Mogadishu, Somalia – Somalia lacks a national electricity grid and relies on imported fuel, wood and charcoal to meet its energy needs. But energy experts say that with the longest coastline in mainland Africa and an average of 10 hours of sunshine per day, Somalia has great potential for onshore wind and solar power.
Somalia’s private power companies rely on imported diesel to meet demand, making Mogadishu electricity costs three times the price of the global average.
But they hope to transition to renewable energy.
Abdiaziz Ileka, an electrical engineer at Blue Sky Power, a Somalia-based private energy company, says the lack of investment hinders the development of the region for many.
Illeka says the challenge for the sector is that solar energy is relatively new and human skills and technology are readily available yet investment is lacking, especially onshore and hydropower, to harness these abundant resources. To tap in. But he remains optimistic.
To help accelerate the launch of renewable energy, a group of private companies this year formed the Somalia Green Energy Association, or SOGEA.
Bashir Souffe, founder of clean energy company Dalson Power and president of SOGEA, says the group faces various obstacles such as lack of incentives and investment from both the government and the international community. But he says that if the necessary investments and funding are received, especially if banks can open their doors to support the renewable energy sector, Somalia could become a renewable energy hub and grow economically.
Somalia’s Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development says it is pushing for renewable energy. Mohamed Dubo, director of the Somalia Investment Promotion Office, tasked with the office’s efforts to implement renewable energy, says Somalia is endowed with vast natural resources. The renewable energy sources are wind and solar energy. Duba says Somalia’s wind speeds are quite high, even among the fastest in the world, and they can generate substantial amounts of electricity. Similarly, he says, the country has extended the duration of sunshine, and therefore, so has the ability to sell electricity to its neighbours.
A 2018 African Development Bank study found that Somalia has the highest potential of any African nation for onshore wind power – if it can access it.
Samtar Mohamed, a lecturer in economics at Mogadishu University, agrees. They feel that the country is yet to utilize its full potential.
He says that if Somalia is able to take advantage of its abundant renewable energy potential, the cost of a kilowatt-hour will not be as expensive as it is. He said that the utility rate would be cheaper and everyone would be able to afford electricity.
As the world moves towards clean energy, Somalia’s energy industry hopes to move along with it and find its place under the sun.