Access to reliable and sustainable energy is a crucial need for Africa

14Jul 2020
The Guardian
Access to reliable and sustainable energy is a crucial need for Africa

It is essential for African governments to build back strong from the coronavirus crisis by placing investments in sustainable energy among the central recovery goals, and linking recovery investment to strengthening the foundation of future sustainable development.

Africa, like the rest of the world, has been severely affected by the spread of COVID-19 in the recent months with an estimated 5 to 29 million people being reduced back to live below the poverty line.

In this peculiar socio-economic context, the strategic relevance of the energy sector in guaranteeing the well-being of our cities and populations becomes even clearer.

In particular, we agree on the need to urgently equip Africa with a network of hospital facilities and health centres with secure and reliable access to electricity along with stimulating the continent’s socio-economic development.

Access to electricity for the 600 million people in Africa who still do not have it needs to be guaranteed. In this time of uncertainty, investment in building back better is important, including in the vital area of energy transition towards renewable energies.

Such investment in sustainable energy will help mitigate the impact of climate change, while widening access to energy. It will be essential, thanks to the economic and financial stimulus that will follow this crisis, to build and strengthen the energy system in a clean and sustainable way, pursuing a deep de-carbonisation and to prepare a more resilient socio-economic system to external shocks such as COVID-19.

The impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s energy sector building back better will require placing sustainable energy investments at the heart of the continent’s recovery strategy.

The renewable energy sector can play a fundamental role in the fight against the disastrous effects of COVID-19 with stimulus measures to induce economic recovery expected to strengthen the foundation of sustainable development through strategic investments in sustainable energy.

Access to reliable and sustainable energy is a crucial need, and is even more important today for supporting essential services during the global crisis.

Indeed renewable energy investments at scale will contribute to support sustained economic growth, including by strengthening local value chains and supporting local jobs.

Africa ought to advocate for policy changes to support investments in sustainable and renewable energy sources to enable structural shifts towards low-carbon and more resilient power systems.

Africa's private sector would be crucial in leading the much-needed ambitious energy transition. Renewable energy is crucial for Africa's recovery from the pandemic.

African governments must be committed as ever before to pursue all forms of development cooperation to advance the urgent need of the continent to recover from the rampage of COVID-19 and in providing the necessary policy and technical support to African policy makers in building back and building back better.

Evidence shows that renewables are the best for energy supply in health centres, agriculture and education in Africa. A resilient energy system and clean energy transition are fundamental for each country and their recovery path.

The United Nations is recommending a series of measures for nations to recover from this crisis and build back better towards sustainable development.

Health and energy are the first priority and tied together. No development can be sustainable if it leaves several hundreds of million people in the darkness.

Africac organisations should be working to offer the investments that were already scheduled in the energy industry to have the most impactful stimulus for recovery. And the only recovery way is through renewables.

Africa has to create ambitious energy pathways that provide long term decarbonisation solutions within the next three years for millions of jobs to be created with heightened investments in renewables.

Decisions that governments and public institutions are making now will shape Africa’s development for years to come.