Africa is a continent rich in natural resources that have the potential to enhance human development for the very poorest of communities. No resource is more abundant than sunlight. The world's largest solar project is planned in the Sahara Desert by a host of European companies that hope to tap into the African sun to meet European energy needs.
"If just 0.3% of the Saharan Desert was used for a concentrating solar plant, it would produce enough power to provide all of Europe with clean renewable energy. That is why 20 blue chip German companies are gathering together next month to discuss plans and investments to create such a massive project. Both the meeting and project are being promoted by the Desertec Foundation, which is proposing to erect 100 GW of concentrating solar power plants throughout Northern Africa."The ambitious project would also create desalinization plants to draw freshwater from the ocean to meet local agricultural needs. There are plenty of good reasons to be excited for inspired attempts to create "an oasis in the desert" anywhere, but especially in Africa. Hopefully though, the fruits of scientific innovation harnessing the sun's power will ultimately be used to help meet developmental needs in the continent. In recent history, European powers have unfortunately been the primary beneficiary of Africa's resource rich geography. Will solar power be any different?