Managing Watts With Bits: How Africa’s Harnessing Digital To Meet Its Energy Needs - Business Media MAGS

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Managing Watts With Bits: How Africa’s Harnessing Digital To Meet Its Energy Needs

Mr. Xia Hesheng, President of Huawei Southern Africa Digital Power Business.

The village of Bamba is a 10-hour drive from the Zambian capital of Lusaka. It is home to a micro-gird PV (photo-voltaic) plant, which once on grid will bring uninterrupted power to the entire village that had no power for years. It is one of more than 400 such plants by Huawei across Africa, bringing power to remote, rural areas.

In Ghana, meanwhile, a 50MW PV power station, 490 kilometers northwest from the capital city Accra, feeds directly into the grid, while another 200MW PV power station is being built nearby.

In South Africa, the Aquila Private Game Reserve near Cape Town is home to rows of dark blue PV panels. The facility is working silently to power the park and create harmony between human and nature.

All of these projects, which use Huawei Digital Power technologies in some capacity, and many more in various stages of progress illustrate how digitally-enabled renewable energy is playing a crucial role in helping Africa achieve its power and development goals. These solutions won’t just solve the problems of frequent power outages and power shortages for rural and urban areas in Africa, they’ll also create employment opportunities for people in Africa.

Overcoming Africa’s power supply challenges

 We see a pair of contrasting pictures in Africa. On one hand, Africa has the biggest potential for solar energy around the world, with a long-term output of 4.51 kWh/kWp per day; on the other hand, however, Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 77% of the global population without electricity access, and that proportion has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another contrast in Africa is that it has the world’s lowest emissions – accounting for only 2–3 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, but it is the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change-increased drought and floods, spread of diseases, and loss of biodiversity. There is no doubt that renewables and solar PV in particular, will be critical for Africa to achieve a just and equitable energy transition, and meet its development goals. However, the core issue is cost.

At the just concluded Africa Adaptation Summit Ahead of this November’s COP27 in Egypt, Senegalese President Macky Sall, this year’s chair of the African Union (AU), said Africa needs a mix of fossil fuel and renewable energy, so it “could reduce the cost of energy” to support its economies. Digital plays a big role in reducing the cost of energy, especially renewables.

Committing to digital power

At Huawei, we’re committed to enabling this just transition by bringing our digital expertise to the power sector. It’s why we established Digital Power in 2021, leading to the transformation of energy digitalisation.

By integrating digital and power electronics technologies, Huawei Digital Power facilitates more efficient operation so that enterprises can provide clean and stable power to society, easier and at lower costs, to drive energy revolution for a better, greener future.

Currently, Huawei Digital Power has 6000+ employees (60% R&D), 12 research centers worldwide, and more than 10% of its revenue has been invested in R&D, and 1600+ partners worldwide. This commitment is also making a tangible difference across Sub-Saharan Africa. In line with our mission to “bring green power to every person, home, and organisation, light up Africa with digital power,” we’ve delivered more than 1GW of PV powerplants while also delivering solutions for the utility, commercial & industrial, and residential spaces.

Going forward, we will keep working to ensure we do everything possible to contribute to Africa’s energy efforts to meet the energy needs and development goals of the continent. We believe this isn’t just a business, it’s about caring for people, it’s our mission in Africa.

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Xia Hesheng

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