Least responsible for heating the planet but hardest hit by the extreme weather it has already caused, African countries are mostly trying to adapt to climate change rather than slow its march. Renewable energy may be the key to ensuring a sustainable energy supply for future generations, and this article will discuss whether the African continent is ready for such a shift.
Work In Progress?
Most of Africa’s energy comes from mining natural resources such as coal and oil. These processes are, of course, harmful to not only the environment but also people. Global Citizen wrote that “A new study published in the Nature Energy Journal has found that although 2,500 power plants are planned to be developed in Africa in the next decade, less than 10% of them will produce green energy”. While the need for energy is high, the need for a sustainable energy source is even higher. While the plans will double electricity access, they will also double the risks of climate and environmental pollution and harm. Solutions are indeed needed, and development finance institutions, public, government and private sectors are working towards creating climate finance opportunities and means in order to build infrastructure that will be conducive to producing electricity and other energy resources without harming the environment.
The Economic Ripple
Of course, sustainable energy will change the way we do business and, in turn, improve the economy. Think about how many small and medium businesses are currently the lifeline of a lot of African countries’ economies. The great digital shift has created a need for more and more entrepreneurship opportunities, and something as simple as being able to light up a remote area in Africa can help that community with service and product delivery, opportunities for better education, retaining of livelihoods and more tourism opportunities, to name a few. It is not easy to accomplish everything all at once, but it is looking like Africa is planning on trying harder.
Presently, the commonly used energy sources in South Africa include coal, oil, gas, nuclear power, hydropower, and renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and wave power. However, some of these energy sources pose an environmental risk and contribute to climate change and global warming. It is because of this reason that DBSA formed a partnership with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to invest in and implement renewable energy programmes. These are specifically cost-effective programmes which aim to offer support to clean energy projects, with a targeted capacity of 330 MW in solar and wind-generated power.
While energy is already a struggle in Africa, with about 600 million not having access to electricity, the solution would be to introduce them to electricity by introducing them to solar-powered, sustainable and green inspired technologies and not the coal mined and fossil-fueled kind. The road ahead is long, but with the right partnerships, we are looking at a better future in the next decade or so.