Abstract This paper determines a least cost electricity solution for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The power system discussed in this study is hourly resolved and based on 100% Renewable Energy (RE) technologies. Sub-Saharan Africa was subdivided into 16 sub-regions. Four different scenarios were considered involving the setup of a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission grid. An integrated scenario that considers water desalination and industrial gas production was also analyzed. This study reveals that RE is sufficient to cover 866.4 TWh estimated electricity demand for 2030 and additional electricity needed to fulfill 319 million m3 of water desalination and 268 TWhLHV of synthetic natural gas demand. Existing hydro dams can be used as virtual batteries for solar PV and wind electricity storage, diminishing the role of other storage technologies. The results for total levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) decreases from 57.8 €/MWh for a highly decentralized to 54.7 €/MWh for a more centralized grid scenario. For the integrated scenario, including water desalination and synthetic natural gas demand, the levelised cost of gas and the levelised cost of water are 113.7 €/MWhLHV and 1.39 €/m3, respectively. A reduction of 6% in total cost and 19% in electricity generation was realized as a result of integrating desalination and power-to-gas sectors into the system. A review of studies on the energy future of Sub-Saharan Africa provides the basis for a detailed discussion of the new results presented.

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