Solar power systems can be used to supply electricity in remote regions in Africa.
Solar power systems can be used to supply electricity in remote regions in Africa. Shutterstock/ingehogenbijl

Headline: Exploring the nexus of decentralized renewable energy supply and digital technologies for productive use in Africa


Access to affordable and clean electricity is a central ingredient for social and economic development in remote rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Electrification using Solar Home Systems (SHS) as well as mini- or micro-grids to deliver renewable energy can support efforts to achieve this goal. Digital technologies also play an increasingly important role in facilitating access to education, information, services and new opportunities for income generation.

Tapping into synergies between communication and energy technologies

However, little research has been conducted to date on the nexus of a decentralized energy supply and the use of digital technologies in remote rural areas. With funding from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), this project will prepare a scoping study to explore the use of digital technologies in facilitating the development of decentralized renewable energy supply and, conversely, how these systems can promote their adoption and productive application. In particular, the study will seek to identify synergies between energy and digital technologies that create new or improved economic opportunities and enhance productivity. Examples include the use of decentralized energy systems to power water pumps and digital irrigation management systems in order to improve farming yields in horticulture.

The regional focus of the study will be on Sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers will develop case studies to explore the relationship between digital technologies and decentralized energy supply and identify the framework conditions that would be necessary to exploit the synergies arising through their interaction. The research team will also seek to identify relevant technical and socio-economic challenges and consider how these could best be tackled. The findings of this research project will be published in a report.