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Invest in renewable energy, AfDB urges business

“Investments in renewable energy should be the concern of both the government and the private sector. This is one of the best ever innovations in COP conferences and it is time private investors in Africa wake up and seize the opportunity,” notes Assaad Razzouk, chairman of Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia at a discussion on the theme, “Creating Enabling Environments for Private Sector Finance for Renewable Energy in Africa,” which held on the tenth day of the Paris climate talks.

Assaad Razzouk, chairman of Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia. Photo credit: plus.google.com

Assaad Razzouk, chairman of Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia. Photo credit: plus.google.com

Hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the discussions centered on how African countries can make significant economic progress if the renewable energy plan is given the attention it deserves especially by the private sector.

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The involvement of the private investors in AfDB’s new renewable energy scheme can be an icing on the cake in the continent’s development drive, it was noted.

“Energy is central to any development equation and private investors need to take advantage of the opportunity this new business offers,” Bruno Ban Sasson of ENGIE Africa said.

The case of the involvement of the private sector renewable energy projects in Rwanda was presented with a call for other countries in the continent to walk in their footsteps.

“In Rwanda we are very keen about translating energy policies into workable solutions. The private sector is very instrumental in this drive,” explained Alex Mulisa of the Rwanda National Fund for Environment and climate change, FONERWA.

However, the success of any development project depends on the sacrifice the different stakeholders are ready to pay and this include the general population of the different countries, notes John Ward of London based VIVID Economics consultancy.

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“Renewable energy in Africa, yes but this has a price which the tax payers must be ready to pay. There must be some readiness to embrace the changes and sacrifices that come with innovations,” Ward cautioned.

He admitted that the cost of energy in Africa at the moment is relatively high but noted that the solution to the crisis has to be local and that is where the drive for renewable energy comes handy.

Statistics show that energy access in rural areas in Africa is only 15%. It is hoped that with the embrace of renewable energy the access could leapfrog to acceptable levels.

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Africa is focused on achieving its sustainable development goals irrespective of the outcome of the climate deal in COP21, notes civil society actors from the continent.

“Whether there is a favourable agreement or not, it does not prevent Africa from pursuing and attaining its development goals,” notes Augustine Njamnshi of the Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

The same message was echoed by the coordinator of the Pan African Media Alliance for Climate Change (PAMACC), Isaiah Esipisu, who also hailed the great role the media was playing in driving the renewable energy scheme in Africa.

“Though the challenge of creating awareness and driving understanding of renewable energy imperatives in Africa is huge, PAMACC’s resolve to overcome these challenges remains unbroken,” Esipisu said.

By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame (PAMACC Team in Paris)

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