Africa holds enormous potential to become a renewable energy leader

Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of global clean energy powerhouse Masdar, tells us about its plans for clean energy worldwide


Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer, Masdar

Can you outline what your ambitions are in Africa as a priority territory for Masdar?

With some of the world’s most favourable wind and solar conditions, Africa holds enormous potential to become a renewable energy leader. As a global clean energy powerhouse, active in over 40 countries, Masdar’s ambition for Africa is to help it unlock its full potential by leveraging our skills and expertise that we have garnered from over a decade and a half of pioneering renewable energy technologies.

This is something we are already working towards in Africa, where Masdar and its partners are empowering local communities, developing over 1 GW of clean energy projects capable of delivering electricity to over 845,000 homes in Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, and Seychelles.

Can you outline how the African continent is progressing towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and how Masdar is helping to achieve this goal?

Africa is making great strides in the transition to net zero. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency, twelve African nations, representing over 40% of the continent’s total carbon dioxide emissions, have already made commitments to achieve net zero by 2030. However, more can be done to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy across Africa and to support the continent’s net-zero ambitions. 

Aside from developing clean energy projects across the continent, Masdar is also working with leading international agencies and development funds to support further renewable energy deployment in Africa. This includes working with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on the Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) platform, which aims to support new renewable energy projects in developing countries.

More broadly, the UAE as a country is deeply committed to supporting the energy transition in developing countries, and in Africa in particular. The UAE has pledged $1bn to support the ETAF program and has also established the “Etihad 7” initiative, an innovative program for funding renewable energy projects across Africa that targets 20 GW of clean power, supplying electricity to 100 million people 2035.


Similarly, can you outline how UAE is progressing towards achieving net zero emissions in the next quarter century or so?

The UAE has long been a leader in climate action, and that is why the UAE leadership established Masdar over a decade and a half ago to pioneer renewable energy development. This commitment to climate action has also led the UAE to be the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to adopt a net zero commitment, as well as the first country in the region to ratify the Paris Agreement.

We are progressing toward these objectives in a number of different ways, one of which – of course – include renewable energy development. With some of the lowest-cost solar resources in the world, the UAE has capitalised on this advantage, and is home to three of the largest single-site solar plants in the world – two of which Masdar is actively involved in. 

We are also helping to drive the development of other forms of clean energy technologies, including waste to energy-and green hydrogen. Working with our partner BEEAH, we have developed the first commercial waste-to-energy facility in the Middle East, with the ability to displace almost 450,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year. We are also working with leading industry players to build on the UAE’s potential as a leading hydrogen producer, through a number of green hydrogen projects, including a green hydrogen demonstrator project to establish the commercial viability of the use of green hydrogen in sustainable aviation fuels.

How important do you see the holding of Cop27 in Africa being for driving international cooperation and motivation to achieve its goals? 

The global climate challenge is just that: a global challenge. We will not reach net zero or successfully mitigate climate change without working together to overcome these challenges and provide real, lasting solutions for a more sustainable future.

Cop has become one of the most important global events for delivering climate action through international cooperation, and Cop27 will be no different. However, it will bring into sharper focus the tremendous potential that Africa has to help accelerate the adoption of renewable energy and help meet our global climate objectives. 

Do you have any views on what the next landmark should be after Cop27 in Africa?

With Cop27 in Egypt this year, the world is focused on coming together to address the global climate challenge and the key role that Africa can play in meeting that challenge, while at the same time exploring how the rest of the world can support Africa to unlock its full potential.

Following Cop27, the focus will – of course – remain on the global conversation around climate change, with two key events as essential landmarks for continuing the critical dialogue. The first will be Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) in January 2023 – one of the largest sustainability events in the world, which will bring together global heads of state, policymakers, industry and academia to drive forward climate action. 

Following that, the world will again prepare for a Cop in November 2023, with Cop28 being hosted in the UAE. There, we will build on the foundations laid at Cop27, and leverage the convening power of the UAE and its position as a global energy leader to help deliver real solutions and climate action. 

Can you tell us more about Masdar’s growth ambitions?

Masdar has evolved into one of the largest and fastest-growing renewable energy companies in the world, and we are set to transform yet again. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) will join Mubadala Investment Company as shareholders in Masdar, bringing together three of Abu Dhabi’s energy giants to help supercharge our growth as a global clean energy powerhouse. 

This transaction will help enable Masdar to reach our growth ambitions, as we aim to grow our portfolio capacity to over 100 GW by the end of this decade, with aspirations to reach 200 GW and beyond in the following years. This growth will come from all over the world, but Africa will be a key market in our expansion plans. 

Masdar has many projects around the world. All of them are highly worthy. Can you identify some specific projects of which you are particularly proud, and why?

Masdar’s portfolio includes world-class projects all around the world, with many of them first-of-their-kind. This includes the first offshore floating windfarm, Hywind Scotland; one of the largest windfarms in the world, the London Array; Indonesia’s first floating solar plant; the largest windfarms in the Middle East and Central Asia; and the first waste-to-energy project in the Middle East, just to name a few.

Ultimately, we are proud of every single one of our projects, as they are all playing a key role in powering a more sustainable future.