Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Opportunities for Wisconsin companies as governments move to make power supply widespread and reliable.

Alternative energy and storage systems are being used to make various portions of Africa’s industrial supply chains more effective and resilient, as well as control energy costs and production disruptions.

Predictable power supply is critical for industrial companies to meet their production targets and timelines, and alternative energy removes the risks arising from unstable grids and poor power quality. Alternative energy projects larger than 5 MW are well represented in Africa. However, midsize to large companies are not well served in the alternative energy solutions market, and this is where significant growth is possible.

Alternative energy sources include biogas, natural gas, solar, geothermal, wind, biomass-based energy and various storage systems that are suitable and economic for plants to use. Alternative energy and storage systems have been recommended for packaging, bottling and processing plants, as well as grain mills and cold storage supply chain systems, as they can benefit most from improved reliability, power quality and lower costs. There is also interest in the agricultural sector, particularly in regions where the electrical grid is not reliable. Alternative energy solutions in farming communities using "mini-grids," supporting industry-based communities, are expected to increase.

In most countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, state-owned utilities retain a dominant market position, but they are quickly unbundling power utilities, allowing energy providers to partially or fully privatize. President Obama’s Power Africa plan, launched in 2015 to bring together technical and legal experts, provides an opening to Wisconsin firms interested in the market. The program aims to provide 60 million new electricity connections in Africa by 2020.