Despite having ample energy resources, the African continent has low energy access. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), over 75% of the sub-saharan people of Africa do not have access to safe and clean fuels.
600,000 people, mostly women and children, die every year because of traditional ways of cooking using wood and charcoal. With the estimated cost of green energy transition ranging from $1.2 to $2.0 trillion from now to 2030, the clean energy transition can take place effortlessly provided the region has well-organized planning for just transition with clear policies and frameworks and a flexible environment for private sectors investing and facilitating the transition.
Clean energy transition in the Global South varies significantly from country to country in comparison to the Global North notably the European Union (EU). Although fewer actions are being implemented in Africa, the subject interest in clean energy for the future is soaring high. The initiative for green energy policy saw unprecedented growth due to technological innovations. The continent’s recent steady economic growth and rapid population appraisal will demand more energy resources for balancing the current needs and future development.
The continent is subjected to an exacerbating jolt of climate change and due to its low adaptive capacity to mitigate climate change, the need to transition to clean energy is imperative. Therefore, focusing investments in green technologies will help African economies to address the repercussions caused by the climate crisis.
Hindrance to Clean Energy Transition
While the renewable energy transition is promising and many collaborative efforts are made to achieve this goal, there is a possible hindrance in curbing the full potential of the energy transition. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organization that is supporting countries around the globe with result-oriented solutions to achieve a sustainable renewable energy transition. IRENA’s report points out that the continent has the potential of generating renewable power almost equivalent to half of its total electricity generation capacity. The report further estimated that nearly $70 billion would be needed in investment annually to reach this goal. Most African economies do not have the resources to fund high-valued investment projects to mitigate the ongoing energy crisis.
In several African countries, due to a lack of adequate grid infrastructure, electricity gets wasted as difficulties are faced by the management to acclimatize non-renewable energy sources. The same can also be witnessed in the case of renewable sources of energy. The region needs more human skills such as operation, maintenance, and technical advancement i.e. research and development in this spectrum of green energy procurement.
Opportunities leading towards a Green Transition
Many Africans still rely on conventional sources of energy such as coal and wood for daily usage. Changing to renewable energy provides an opportunity to bypass conventional energy sources which have many health implications. Therefore, replacing exhaustible fuel sources will not only have environmental advantages but would also notably improve health in the region.
Due to Africa’s diverse geography which enables it to access a great amount of wind and solar energy and has the potential to lead the world in meeting its net zero targets by 2050. The continent is home to almost 30% of world’s mineral resources, which are used in manufacturing clean energy technologies.
Africa has witnessed robust growth and development in the last couple of years and has huge potential for clean energy sources. Clean energy development demands bilateral and multilateral coordination amongst the countries with support from the international community. For the transition to be effective and sustainable, the policymakers must implement well-drafted policies which provide affordable energy access to the region. The energy transition is crucial for the continent as in the upcoming years its energy requirements will be skyrocketing.
Author: Azim Choudhary, The Geostrata