Society / Environment
Friday, 18 Nov 2016 19:48 EAT
Wednesday 16 November, 2016 was marked as Africa Day at the ongoing 22nd conference of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco. Speaking during the opening ceremony, European Union (EU) commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said that “Africa can become a pioneer in adoption of clean, renewable energy,” since the continent is already richly endowed with renewable energy resources.
The event was graced by the Presidents of Liberia, Togo, Botswana, Guinea, COP21 (21st UN Climate Change Conference) and COP22 (22nd UN Climate Change Conference), President of African Development Bank, Head of African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), representatives African Union (AU), Germany, Sweden and EU. The day, themed ‘Energy & Climate Change’, was marked with praise for Africa’s renewable energy potential and commitment to support the continents renewable energy initiative.
During the ceremony, it was pointed out that even though Africa has great renewable energy potential, the continent lacks electricity. “Africa has great energy potential but we are exporting raw materials because of lack of electricity.” Akinwumi Adesina, the president of African Development Bank, said. “Many future entrepreneurs are unable to flourish because of the lack of energy,” the EU Commissioner echoed.
Renewable energy in Africa has been lauded as a double sword that will solve Africa’s climate change problems and energy inadequacy stories. “Climate change is having adverse impacts on Africa as exemplified by what is happening to Lake Chad,” said AU representative, adding, “It is time for Africa to mobilize resources and finance to implement the agreement since it fits very well with Africa’s 2063 agenda.”
The world leaders who spoke at the event reaffirmed their commitments to support AREI and renewable energy initiatives in Africa to combat climate change and power the continent at the same time. AREI is an initiative that aims to accelerate and scale up the harnessing of Africa’s renewable energy potential.
The Swedish representative said that Sweden will spend 1 billion US dollars in the next 10 years supporting AREI and renewable energy initiatives in Africa. “The role of energy in leapfrogging and lifting people out of poverty cannot be understated. Everyone in Africa should have clean, renewable and affordable energy by 2030,” she said.
The AU representative said that AU will do its best to support the process of adoption of renewable energy in Africa. “It is time for Africa to mobilize resources and finance to implement the Paris Agreement,” she said in reference to the Paris Agreement that urges countries to put in places measures to reduce global temperature increase to 1.50C by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
German representative assured the African leaders that the G7 stands behind their commitment to support energy deployment and access in Africa. “Germany committed 3 billion euros till 2020 and has already given 1.2 billion euros,” he said.
The ADB president said that the bank has set aside USD 12 billion to support renewable energy initiatives in Africa and plans to generate 300 Gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2030. “The bank has also appointed a Vice-President in charge of Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth to fast track the Power Africa agenda,” he said while also lauding France for generous support towards renewable energy and sustainable development initiatives. “We are moving in the right direction at required speed,” Youba Soukouna, AREI president said, adding, “Renewable energy is fast and cheap but the initiative in Africa will be as good as the individual countries buying into the idea.”
The writer is the founder and executive director of the Kenya Environmental Education Network