MOGADISHU, SOMALIA – Somalia lacks a national power grid and relies on imported fuel, wood and charcoal to address its energy needs. But energy experts say 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 power cost more than three times the price of the global average.
But they hope to transition to renewable energy.
Abdiaziz Ileyka, an electrical engineer with Blue Sky Power, a private energy company based in Somalia, says that lack of investment hinders many from developing this sector.
Illeyka says the challenge for the sector is that solar power is relatively new and there is lack of investment, despite the human skills and the technology being readily available, especially to tap into onshore and hydro power to make use of these abundant resources. But he remains optimistic.
To help jump-start renewables, a group of private companies this year formed the Somalia Green Energy Association, or SOGEA.
Bashiir Soofe, the founder of clean energy company Dalsan Power and SOGEA’s chairman, says the group faces various obstacles such as lack of incentives and investments from both the government and international community. But he says if the necessary investment and funding is obtained, particularly if banks can open their doors to support the renewable energy sector, then Somalia can become a hub for renewable energy and rise economically.
Somalia’s Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development says it is pushing renewable energy. Mohamed Dubo, the director of the Somalia Investment Promotion Office, the office tasked with efforts to implement renewable energy, says Somalia is endowed with vast natural resources. Among the renewable energy sources are wind and solar energy. Dubo says Somalia’s wind speeds are quite high, even the fastest in the world, and these can generate substantial amounts of electricity. Similarly, he says, the country has extended periods of sunshine, and, therefore, the potential to even sell power to its neighbors.
A 2018 African Development Bank study found that Somalia has the highest potential of any African nation for onshore wind power — if it can harness it.
Samatar Mohamed, an economics lecturer at Mogadishu University, agrees. He thinks the country just hasn’t been able to unleash its full potential.
He says if Somalia is able to take advantage of the its abundant renewable energy potential, the price of a kilowatt-hour would not be as expensive as it is. The utility rate would be cheap, and everyone would be able to afford electricity, he added.
As the world moves to clean energy, Somalia’s energy industry hopes to move with it and find its place under the sun.