African countries need diversified renewable energy sources if they are to meet growing energy demands. That’s according to experts who attended the 20th African Energy Forum in Mauritius this week.

They also believe an integrated power system will assist the continent’s regions, but say better planning by African states is required.

African countries have taken significant strides in developing renewable power sources. The numbers of people with access to electricity on the continent has increased sharply over the past few years.

However, more than 600 million Africans are still without power – this emerged at the 20th anniversary of the Africa Energy Forum held in Mauritius.

The picturesque Island of Mauritius, with a population of around 1.3 million, is not only regarded as one of Africa’s most competitive economy. But its renewable power sector is rapidly expanding.

The country is now exploring various power sources from hydropower to bio-mass. And its renewable energy strategy is clear.

With Africa said to be at a turning point and continuing to explore solutions to its energy challenges, better collaborations are required.

Aggreko CEO, Chris Weston says:”For many African countries this is genuine greenfield development opportunity, a far cry from the complex, costly upgrades involved in updating ageing and creaking western infrastructure.”

However funding remains a stumbling block in the continent.

The African Development Bank has already invested more than 1.4 billion dollars into renewable energy projects in Africa.

While renewable energy projects are underway in at least 13 countries across the continent, questions were raised whether enough has been done.

NEPAD regional integration, infrastructure and trade programme head, Symerre Grey-Johnson elaborates:

“We need to have this mix, we need to have the big projects that are on the pillar and we need long time patient capital, hydro. The whole energy mix, but we also need to start looking at renewable to quickly allow decision-makers to agree on how to get these projects provision up and running.”

Meanwhile, the director of the International Gas Union, Rafael Lázaro told delegates that gas should also be seen as a viable energy resource that’s affordable and accessible.

“Switching coal from coal to gases that easiest way to reduce .footprint. gas is the best partner of renewables due to technical and economic technically because it’s easy to connect and disconnect a space. For the renewables. The price of the power plants, gas power plants, cost is the lower capital needed.”