Is the solar water pump market productive, efficient and economical?
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Considering the current situation of the agricultural sector in Africa, irrigated cropland in the region stands at only 5%. While weather patterns are turning out to be extremely unreliable it’s becoming very difficult to deal with the demand for food from the expanding urban population in the region.
In this exclusive ESI Africa article, Future Market Insights examines the agricultural sector, which is one of the main sectors supporting income in the region, and the role of solar power to irrigate fields effectively and boost overall productivity.
A report published by Future Market Insights on the solar water pumps market, states that “one of the biggest cost-consuming tasks for African farmers and other agriculture-dependent countries is running water pumps using diesel generators, which have high operating costs”. However, solar-powered water fountains are gaining prominence in Africa owing to the attractive growth opportunities which come with them.
Solar irrigation: Is it a new trend taking over Africa?
Studies suggest that solar energy has a major role to play in the overall development of Africa’s agricultural sector. Recent research conducted by the Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security elaborates on the possible outcomes of solar irrigation in the region. One of the most prominent benefits of a proper irrigation system is that Africa’s food import dependency will reduce from 54% under business-as-usual to 17–40%, leading to a massive reduction in hunger and under-nutrition.
Solar irrigation is all set to take over Africa. The estimates based on the 13 African countries further indicate that the potential to expand irrigation in Africa is really high as the region could expand the irrigated land area by 13.5 million hectares. In addition to this, the sub-Saharan African region, in a few years, could possibly be dependent on solar thermal technologies for pumping water for irrigation, especially in the rural farms.
Role of government in creating opportunities
According to the United Nations, food production must double by 2050 to meet the demand of the world’s growing population and innovative strategies are needed to help combat hunger. This demand profile is set to see the world increasingly turning to Africa to meet the demands.
Africa has 65% of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land, an abundance of fresh water, and about 300 days of sunshine each year. In addition to this, more than 60% of Africa’s working population is engaged in agriculture. The solar-powered water fountains have been around for quite a few years. The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is actively supporting the creation and development of agricultural clusters and uptake of technologies, and for better access to water and irrigation in the region.
As a part of a multi-dollar Africa-India partnership aiming towards the eradication of energy poverty, India pledged a concessional credit line of $10 billion to Africa for solar energy projects. The plan is projected to be implemented through the India-hosted International Solar Alliance (ISA).
The most important target area of this immediate collaboration is solar irrigation, which is already levelling up and expanding rapidly in India. AfDB will highly benefit from the partnership owing to its goals relating to the achievement of universal electricity access and the eradication of hunger and malnutrition by 2025.
Furthermore, the government is actively implementing initiatives to curb the growing carbon emission in an effort to reduce global warming. Such initiatives have stemmed from the growing dependence on the usage of renewable sources to reduce energy consumption costs and the total carbon footprint on the environment. Such initiatives are driving the demand for solar pumps in the region.
Considering the aforementioned developments, the solar pumps market in Africa is all set to grow. The supportive government policies and the significant ways which make solar water pumps a superior alternative to save cost are paving the way for the market players.
Promising prospects for African farmers
The countries across Africa have farmers thriving hard to earn their livelihoods in one way or the other. Farmers are finding alternatives to cope with the dependency on rains for irrigation of the agricultural lands. Statistics suggest that about 98% of Kenyan farmers rely on rain for irrigation. The collection of water in sand dams gets difficult for the farmers and comes with a lot of challenges pertaining to accessibility.
The solar water pumps cut down the effort to move water, reduce carbon emissions, increase accessibility and reduce costs. As per the recent news articles, the farmers in Mwithini are extremely satisfied after the installation of a new solar-powered system.
In February 2021, the World Bank and the Makueni County government installed a 32-cell solar unit in Mauyu’s village with the help of farmers. This is one of the major off-grid solar projects the World Bank has helped set up around Kenya.
One of Africa’s regions holding both potential and significant adoption of solar water pump systems is Sudan. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Sudan’s Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity, announced a 5 years solar project called “Solar for Agriculture”. The project aimed at installing 29 solar pump systems of different sizes in the country’s Northern state. After the successful installation, the project further aims at improving the farm’s productivity and reducing the dependence on high-cost fuels such as diesel.
Solar irrigation holds a whole lot of promising prospects for African farmers. One of the major reasons is the limited rainfall in the region. The introduction of solar pumps will help in extracting water from different sources, boosting the productivity of the cultivated farms, and catering to the socio-economic returns.
Solar pumps are the future
With technological advancements, solar energy is all set to offer promising prospects to various sectors in the region. They have huge potential to address the current energy demands as well as face future challenges. Solar pumps are the future of not just agriculture but water management too. Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, and Nigeria are all expected to offer a huge playing field in this market to grow and embrace the opportunity.
About the author
Nikhil Kaitwade is Associate Vice President (AVP) – Market Research at Future Market Insights, ESOMAR-certified market research and consulting firm Future Market Insights (FMI). The award-winning firm is headquartered in Dubai, with offices in the US, UK and India. MarketNgage is the Market Research Subscription Platform from FMI that assists stakeholders in obtaining in-depth research across industries, markets and niche segments.