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Growth of solar panel installations in Africa continues through 2023

South Africa responsible for 79 percent of installed capacity. The recent growth in installation of solar panels on the African continent has been followed by a record year 2023. Compared to 2022 - the previous record year for solar power - installed capacity rose from 3.1 to 3.7 megawatt peak. Much of this growth was due to South Africa, where nearly 3 MWp of the total solar PV capacity was installed. Now, let’s take a closer look at the strong growth that Africa appears to be experiencing within the energy transition.

Mostly commercial plants

Africa grows to 15.3 MWp capacity in solar panels

Judging by figures from trade association Africa Solar Industry Association (AFSIA), total solar panel capacity in Africa grew to 15.3 MWp at the end of 2023. Notable is the strong growth of solar panels within the commercial and industrial environment of almost 50 percent. In addition, the number of household solar panel installations also grew, albeit comparatively. To illustrate, 2,429.5 MWp of new capacity was installed in the commercial and industrial segment, compared to 90 MWp in households. It goes to show that – despite growth – there is still plenty of room for progress, particularly residentially.

Infrastructure at the base

Importance of reliable utilities and a strong power grid

The fact that a large part of the growing solar market is attributable to business installations is both an opportunity and a threat. It shows that businesses are willing to lead the energy transition. On the other hand, there is still an imbalance between business on the one hand and residential on the other, which sends a serious message. The potential of renewable energy, especially from hydro-power and solar power, is huge. However, many national utilities on the African continent are struggling to reinforce the power grid and so going completely off-grid may be a better option for both households and companies.

As we speak, companies already bypass this issue by combining solar panels and energy storage; Households are still slightly behind in this respect, due to the reduced ability to make such a rather large investment. And this has been the biggest issue in South Africa for some time now. As South Africa’s largest public electricity company, ESKOM is insufficiently able to provide a reliable and strong power grid, resulting in households facing blackouts and load shedding. However, local governments in South Africa are now taking action to also move households towards renewable sources of energy.

Find out how Cape Town is inspiring households to switch to solar power:
Cash for Power Programme.


South Africa is leading the way in energy transition African continent

As in 2022, South Africa also led the dance in 2023 when it came to the installation of solar panels. Over 80 percent of all new solar panel projects continent-wide were in South Africa. We have already briefly explained the reason for the rapidly growing number of projects in South Africa: the problems involved in switching off the power grid. South Africa’s large industries in particular are experiencing major problems with this and still have enough clout to find an alternative in solar panels. This is the time to also connect households to the energy transition. And there are plenty of opportunities for that.

A possible solution is to be found in the leasing-concept (payment plans) for solar panels. At Soly we understand that going solar is a significant decision, and we want to make it easier, simpler, and more affordable for you. That’s why we’ve partnered with Ooba, to offer you a range of flexible financing options tailored to meet your needs. This results in a situation where households also have low-threshold access to the solar market.

Meanwhile, 47.5 percent of all solar panel installations on the African continent are in South Africa. Per capita, South Africa, with 111.8 KWp, is second only to Seychelles (184.9 KWp) and Namibia (114.5 KWp).


Africa is now harnessing solar energy potential

The African continent is developing increasingly well in the field of solar energy. In 20 countries, more than 5% of electricity is already generated by solar energy. In the Central African Republic, even half of the electricity comes from solar energy. The country owes this to 2 large-scale solar power plants that were commissioned in 2023. It shows that Africa has now embraced the opportunities that solar energy brings. However, if Africa wants to further strengthen its sustainable position, the residential market will also have to be given the opportunity to switch to renewable solar energy on a large scale. And that is precisely where a major challenge still lies for local governments and utilities.

Knowledge base

Ready to find out more about solar panels and regulations which help you make the move towards a sustainable future? We are more than happy to give you more information on various topics. Take a look at some of the articles from our knowledge base.
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