African countries urged to prioritise sustainable energy

06Dec 2016
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
African countries urged to prioritise sustainable energy

ACCESS to finance is vital for Africa’s poorest countries to develop sustainable energy initiatives and build renewable power capacity which would contribute to ending poverty, empowering women and building resilience, experts said yesterday in Dar es Salaam.

According to the experts, reliable and affordable access to energy has the potential to transform the daily lives of those living in the world’s poorest countries, and is essential for education and health, private sector development, productive capacity building, and expansion of trade.

Addressing the two-day regional meeting on sustainable energy for African Least Developed countries (LDCs), the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, said it was high time that African governments increase annual budget allocations on sustainable energy that will go a long way towards addressing poverty in their respective countries.

The meeting involves sustainable energy gurus, government representatives, and representatives from the United Nations, private sector and civil society across Africa. It is meant to discuss ways to come up with a roadmap and strategy that will help LDCs develop and build renewable capacities.

Prof Muhongo said data on access to energy shows that a huge percentage of Africa’s population has no such access.

“We have to make sustainable energy a priority in our countries, because the situation is discouraging, Africa is far behind and the situation may be worse considering growth of population,” the minister remarked.

He said it is sad to note that two out of every three Africans have no access to energy, saying there is a need for African countries to put the achievement of the sustainable energy at the center of the people.

He however asserted that Tanzania is the leading nation in Africa in implementing international commitments made in 2015 including those of the 2030 Agenda.

In his remarks, the under-secretary general in the UN Office of the High Representative for Least Developed countries, Landlocked Developing countries and Small Island Developing states, Gyan Chandra Acharya, said achieving sustainable energy for all needs support from various stakeholders.

The UN official said the African continent needs between $40 billion and $80 billion to achieve the sustainable energy for all, adding: “This needs commitments from governments.”

“A huge number of people around the world still have no access to energy. And more than 2.9 billion do not have access to clean cooking. Energy poverty limits economic development, stifles people’s life chances, and traps millions of people into extreme poverty,” Acharya said.

The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) country representative for Tanzania, Alvaro Rodriguez, said the UNDP has set aside about $26 billion to support sustainable energy globally.

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