COP27: Renewable energy rollout – Africa should not be given pennies for dollars

A renewable energy rollout in Africa should spark industry within the continent, a high-level dialogue titled Enabling the Scaling Up of Renewable Energy in Africa heard at COP27. Proper development that comes with renewable energy will give African’s the future they deserve.

The African Climate Foundation (ACF) co-hosted the dialogue with Bloomberg Philanthropies, ClimateWorks Foundation, Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, Sustainable Energy for All and World Resources Institute at the COP27 SDG7 in Egypt.

Adnan Amin, who sits on the Advisory Council for the ACF, called for a new partnership in the renewable rollout in Africa – a partnership that is not dependent on only importing technology, but also builds manufacturing capacity on the continent. “We need a partnership that creates new jobs for its people,” he said. Referring to building new partnerships with China in renewable energy, he said that this was the type of partnership Africa needed most from China.

Ready for industrialisation

Africa is ready for leapfrogging into the technology that it needed, Amin added. “We are not interested in only the extraction of our minerals that gives us pennies to the dollars. We are ready for industrialisation.”

Africans were furthermore reminded of their promise in its renewable energy rollout by XIE Zhenhua, Special Envoy for Climate Change in the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People’s Republic of China. In the past 20 years, renewable power’s cost has been reduced by 90% (solar) and 50% (wind) respectively, it was pointed out. Global capital is now moving to green industries on a large scale, with 2021 investment coming in at $1.4 trillion, a historic high. Africa could seize this opportunity for renewable innovation and the acceleration of the industry.

Ambitious Senegal

Alioune Ndoye, Senegal’s Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development and Ecological Transition, explained that Senegal’s climate plan is to scale up renewables into its energy mix.
Senegal’s target of 30% renewables in its energy mix was already quite advanced compared to other countries, Ndoye said.

Senegal wanted to increase its citizen’s access to energy, but also to affordable energy. Ndoye explained that energy access in rural areas was especially low, estimated to be at only 42%. “To increase this access an enormous potential lies in solar and wind energy,” he said.

Senegal’s interest is also to increase energy for productive use and boost industrialisation, Ndoye said. “The country is looking for additional capacity to achieve this. So, to this end, we are developing a partnership with China to promote this agenda.”

He noted that Senegal’s focus was on the transfer of technology, as well as technical assistance from its developed world partners. In addition, he mentioned his appreciation for the ACF’s continuous support.

Renewables can help overcome poverty

Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission emphasised that access to energy was essential for the reduction of poverty on the continent. She said Africa had vast renewable resources, boasting 60% of the best solar sites in the world. Yet solar investment in Africa did not translate to this.

“We have to change the narrative,” she said. Countries such as Kenya and Rwanda with their aggressive renewable rollout and investment presented success stories that everyone could learn from.
Sacko continued to advocate that renewables are key to overcoming energy poverty in Africa, adding that projects should be assisted to become bankable projects to secure the necessary investment.

The hour-long session was concluded with a powerful statement made by Damilola Oyunbiyi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All Oyunbiyi underlined the need for scaling up renewable energy and said, “We don’t want light. Light is nice, but we want development. We want industrialisation and we want a future.”

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