The Discussion on Africa’s Energy Transition Must Start in Africa

Adams Peter

Adams Peter

Africa’s renewable energy sector has gradually expanded over the past decade, driven by international oil company divestment from hydrocarbons and global calls to scale-up clean energy developments in order to mitigate climate change impacts. In response to global accords such as the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, many African governments have taken a proactive approach to driving renewable energy developments – with revised energy regulation and supportive policies. However, the continent continues to face challenges hindering effective growth within the sector.

Primarily, one of the biggest challenges concerns the availability of adequate finance. Despite the costs of renewable energy technologies declining over recent years, significant up-front capital is still required. International markets such as the United Kingdom have been concerted efforts to finance Africa’s energy transition, with commitments such as British International Investment’s plan to invest GBP 1.5-2 billion per year from 2022-2026; the government’s plan to invest $100 million in South African renewable projects; and an established investment pipeline of $13 billion from the UK in Africa. While these efforts have been noted, the implementation and realization of these funds has been disappointing, preventing the effective development of Africa’s renewable sector.

“Right now, we need to talk about mobilizing funds to leapfrog to a clean energy future. What happened to the promised $100 billion? We have seen only $25 billion being spent in over the last 12 years. People have seen a track record of disappointments,” states NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC).

Meanwhile, while the rest of the world grapples with the impacts of both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa is additionally dealing with another critical crisis: energy poverty. With over 600 million without access to electricity and 900 million without access to clean cooking, drastic measures are needed if the continent is to achieve universal access by 2030. Accordingly, Africa cannot address climate change in the same way that the rest of the world is.

“If we want to look at a solution, we need to make sure we create the energy we need immediately and use the resource we have. We have to use all forms of energy we have. Climate Change is a big problem, but we also have 600 million with no access to electricity and 900 with no access to clean cooking. We should be able to use oil, natural gas, and in some stages coal. We need to move towards renewable energies and carbon capture but still continue to fight for poor people,” Ayuk continues.

Despite being about Africa, discussions on the continent’s energy transition tend to take place internationally, with global stakeholders pushing their own agenda and ideas as to how Africa should transition. However, this discussion cannot take place without Africa. Accordingly, as the continent’s premier energy event with a strong mandate to make energy poverty history by 2030, African Energy Week 2022 – taking place in Cape Town on the 18th-21st of October – serves as the ideal platform to have these discussions.

Uniting African stakeholders, energy leaders, and public and private sector executives, AEW 2022 comprises a discussion on the current progress and future ambitions of Africa’s green energy sector. Through the event’s dedicated Green Energy Summit – launched in 2021 as part of a broader green dialogue initiative undertaken by the African Energy Chamber (AEC) and the Ministry of Hydrocarbons of the Republic of the Congo – Africa’s energy leaders and companies will be able to have a real conversation on the challenges and opportunities across Africa’s renewable energy sector.

The Summit goes beyond merely identifying key areas of potential in Africa’s renewable sector to offering regional projects and companies the chance to directly engage with investors. This way, the Summit serves as facilitating platform for growth across a myriad of green energy industries on the continent. The Summit will enable African leaders to discuss what the continent’s primary needs are; the best strategy to reducing emissions; and how the energy transition can be enforced without energy poverty worsening.

However, the conversation doesn’t end there. As an advocate for Africa’s energy development, the AEC firmly believes that any discussion about African energy has to take place on the African continent first. Therefore, with African energy leaders and government representatives going to COP27 in Cairo in November 2022, discussions held at AEW 2022 will be taken to global platforms, enabling African stakeholders to share the challenges faced and opportunities present.

“Any discussion on Africa needs to take place in Africa first. Rather than allow international nations to dictate the best course of action for Africa’s energy transition, AEW 2022 will present a platform for the discussion to be conducted first. Thereafter, we will go to Cairo to present our ideas, challenges, and solutions,” stated Ayuk.

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Professor Jideofor Adibe


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