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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Poor energy access stifling development in Africa – Experts

A multi-stakeholder meeting taking place in Kigali, Rwanda on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, disclosed that seven in 10 people living in the rural areas in the sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, thereby suppressing the continent’s ability to achieve development goals.

Renewable energy
Participants at the forum in Kigali, Rwanda

According to participants drawn from across Africa and attending the Renewable Energy and its Accessibility, without electricity, delivery of the region’s development ambitions as captured in the Africa Union (AU) agenda 2063, including realisation of the goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), will not be possible.

“As much as it is unimaginable, yet it is true that in this twenty first century, electricity remains a luxury to majority of Africans. At the same time, our policy makers do not find it strange and wanting to reverse the situation,” said Charles Mwangi, the Head of Programmes and Research at the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

According to Mwangi, access to affordable and reliable energy for community facilities including schools and health/clinics, which will be central to the delivery of needed services, thus affecting positively on the wellbeing of the underserved populations in rural areas as well as other places.

Benson Ireri, who is of the World Resources Institute (WRI), said that while Africa’s energy sector is vital to the continent’s economic prospects, it has not been able to achieve the reliable domestic energy supply that its people and businesses require.

“The energy demand in Africa has been increasing at an annual rate of around 3%, the highest among all continents, but energy supply continues to lag significantly,” he stated.

Ireri said that, out of Africa’s 54 countries, 35 have undertaken some form of commitment towards net-zero emissions.

Despite such public commitments, decisive actions and implementation remain inadequate and the pace of change is slow.

Investment in low-carbon energy systems in Africa lags global pace; but despite global climate finance commitments from developed economies aimed at $100 billion per annum, the allocation to Africa falls significantly, short of what the continent requires to meet global targets and civil society can help raise the urgent awareness to the dire situation within communities.

Faustin Vuningoma, the Coordinator of the Rwanda Climate Change and Development Network (RCCDN), said civil society organisations should play major roles in bringing about more advocacy and capacity building in regard to access to sustainable and accessible renewable energy.

Dr. Olufunso Sumorin from the African Development Bank Group said that Africa accounts for only 3% of cumulative global CO2 emissions.

“The continent, however, is being swept along in the global energy transition and increasingly coming under the same net-zero policy pressure as developed economies such as the EU,” he said.

“For Africa to achieve its SDGs relating to energy, its generation capacity will need to be doubled by 2030 and multiplied fivefold by 2050. If unmet, this energy demand-supply gap will be detrimental to Africa’s standard of living and will greatly hinder economic growth.

“Governments will never have enough money to do all that needs to be done, but they can use what is available to help better the lives of people on the energy front,” said Sumorin.

Eugene Nforngwa, Energy Lead Expert at PACJA, said the energy sector in Africa would experience substantial structural change over the coming decades. Financing this change at the pace required will be one of the most pressing issues that Africa and the world must address, he added.

The meeting ends on Wednesday, December 14.

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