4 March , 2021

Africa is only tapping into 0.01% of its wind power potential


  • In 2020, 821 MW of new wind power capacity was installed in Africa and the Middle East, bringing total capacity in the region to over 7 GW, which helps to avoid 10.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually – equivalent to taking 2.3 million passenger cars off the road.
  • The technical wind resource potential on the African continent alone is over 59,000 GW according to the latest wind resource data published in October 2020 by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, enough to power the continent’s energy demand 250 times over.
  • South Africa installed 515 MW of new wind power capacity in 2020, making it the number one market for new annual installations last year as well as for cumulative installations.
  • Tapping into the region’s wind power potential will be crucial to create greater energy security, reduce costs, and generate local socioeconomic benefits.

4 March 2021, Brussels – According to the latest data released by GWEC Market Intelligence, the Africa and Middle East region installed 821 MW of new wind power capacity in 2020, bringing total capacity in the region to over 7 GW. While this growth is stable for the region and nearly the same levels of the previous year despite COVID-19 impacting supply chains and project installation in key markets, wind power’s potential in the region is barely scratching the surface.

According to a report published by the IFC, the African continent alone has over 59,000 GW of technical wind resource potential – enough to power the continent’s energy demand 250 times over. Yet, current installed wind power capacity in Africa only accounts for 0.01 per cent of this potential.

The primary market driving growth in the region is South Africa, which installed 515 MW of new wind power capacity in 2020. Senegal came in second place for new capacity last year installing 103 MW, followed by Morocco (92 MW), Jordan (52 MW), Iran (45 MW), and Egypt (13 MW).

Overall, total wind power capacity in the region is now over 7 GW, which helps to avoid 10.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually – equivalent to taking 2.3 million passenger cars off the road.

South Africa remains the number one wind power market in the region with 2.5 GW of cumulative wind power capacity installed in the country. The continued growth of the South African wind market is primarily due to the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) program, which has provided a long-term project pipeline for the industry and attracted investors.

Feng Zhao, Head of Market Intelligence and Strategy at GWEC commented: “Although we saw steady wind power growth in Africa and the Middle East in 2020, we are nowhere close to installing wind power capacity at the levels we could be, considering the massive resource potential in the region. South Africa continues to be the wind power leader in the region, with North African markets such as Morocco and Egypt increasingly driving growth. However, there are many more countries in the region that have yet to tap into their incredible wind power potential”.

“Although Iran and Jordan were the only markets in the Middle East to install new wind power capacity in 2020, this region will also be an increasingly important growth driver for wind power. Countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia that have been historically some of the world’s largest oil & gas producers and highest emitters of CO2 per capita, are now committing to ambitious renewable energy and net zero targets. However, while it is great to see this level of ambition, it must be backed up by the necessary regulatory frameworks that can provide long-term market visibility to scale-up growth at the right pace”, he added.

Emerson Clarke, Director of Growth & Partnerships and Africa Task Force Coordinator at GWEC added: “In order to tap into the formidable wind power potential in Africa and the Middle East, we first need the political will, followed by an increase in collaboration between the private and public sectors to build a sustainable market and maximise the local socioeconomic benefits. It will also be crucial to build out the region’s electricity and transmission infrastructure to ensure stable and cost-competitive energy access and create opportunities for cross-border energy trading through Power Pools, which will be critical for greater energy security in the region”.

“Now is the time to urgently scale-up wind power in the region, and use the technology as driver of local jobs and investment to power a green economic recovery from the pandemic, in line with the region’s Sustainable Development Goals”, he added.

Notes to Editors

  • GWEC Market Intelligence will hold a webinar at 10:00-10:45 CET on 4 March to further discuss 2020 key data and trends in Africa & the Middle East. Find out more and register here: https://gwec.net/2020-key-trends-and-data-wind-power-in-africa-and-the-middle-east/
  • GWEC Market Intelligence will continue its annual regional data releases over the course of the next month in the lead up to the release of the Global Wind Report 2021. See the full calendar of release below:
    • 11 March I Americas and the Caribbean I More
    • 18 March I Asia Pacific I More
    • 25 March I Launch of the Global Wind Report 2021 I More


New Wind Power Capacity in Africa & the Middle East in 2020

  1. South Africa – 515 MW
  2. Senegal – 103.5 MW
  3. Morocco – 92 MW
  4. Jordan – 52 MW
  5. Iran – 45 MW
  6. Egypt – 13 MW


Top 5 Wind Markets in Africa & the Middle East for Cumulative Capacity

  1. South Africa – 2,495 MW
  2. Egypt – 1,465 MW
  3. Morocco – 1,315 MW
  4. Jordan – 338 MW
  5. Ethiopia – 324 MW


About the Global Wind Report 2021

On 25 March, GWEC will release its 16th flagship Global Wind Report , which will provide a comprehensive overview of the global wind industry through the latest market data, country profiles, trends and analysis from GWEC Market Intelligence. It is the most trusted publication globally for wind energy insights on current market status and the future of the industry.

The theme of this year’s report is ‘Wind energy’s role on the road to net zero’. The report will look at the growing trend of countries and regions to announce net zero targets as the world ramps up its commitments and actions to head of the threat of catastrophic climate change, and as major investors and private sector companies follow suit and declare their own targets around carbon neutrality.

Find out more: https://gwec.net/global-wind-report-21-key-dates-and-updates/


About GWEC

Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) is a member-based organisation that represents the entire wind energy sector. The members of GWEC represent over 1,500 companies, organisations and institutions in more than 80 countries, including manufacturers, developers, component suppliers, research institutes, national wind and renewables associations, electricity providers, finance and insurance companies. See more: www.gwec.net


For more information, please contact:

Alyssa Pek

Communications Director, GWEC

[email protected]

+32 490 56 81 39


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