According to new figures from the African Solar Industry Association (AFSIA), the continent’s cumulative installed PV capacity reached 16 GW at the end of December, based on 3.7 GW of new annual installations.
About 65% of the new installations were industrial and commercial (C&I) power plants for self-consumption, AFSIA said. “Unlike other regions of the world, there have only been a handful of large-scale projects, in response to government requests, that have been connected to the African power grid in 2023,” he added.
The association estimated that Africa surpassed the threshold of 16 GW of cumulative installed PV capacity at the end of December. However, this “does not take into account residential facilities that are not overseen by AFSIA,” he added. The figure is based solely on the projects it has identified, although some projects may still be unknown at this stage, he explained.
In 2023, the continent installed 3.7 GW of new capacity. South Africa accounted for almost 3 GW of the total, driven mainly by C&I projects (75%). The country’s connected PV capacity increased from 4.2 GW in 2022 to 7.1 GW by the end of 2023.
“By quickly changing course to focus on self-consumption, South Africans are showing the rest of the continent the way forward. A path where alternative options exist and are financially viable in the event of failure of the national public service,” AFSIA said. “The South Africans had no choice and had to adapt very quickly.”
Burkina Faso has the second largest installed solar capacity in Africa with 92 MW, followed by Mauritania with 84 MW, Kenya with 69.5 MW and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 40 MW. With the exception of Mauritania, where all new capacity is C&I, these countries have built large-scale projects. Another 15 countries installed more than 10 MW each last year, but most African states remain below 1 MW of installed capacity.