Renewables are Africa’s path for a green recovery

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“Now is be the best time to move towards green economy. It is time to shift towards a more sustainable and emission-free transport system and industrial processes. This is the way to building greener and better future for Africa.” said Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, AU Commission (AUC), at the opening ceremony of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Innovation Week held under the theme  ‘Renewable solutions for transport & industry’ and convened to explore innovative solutions to support the decarbonisation of industry and transport sectors.

High level speakers across governments, leading policy makers, innovators, developers and investors discussed, during this virtual gathering, available emerging renewables-based solutions from around the world and actions needed to fully unlock the potential of renewables in the end-use sectors. Promising emerging solutions and policy progress, aiming at leveraging the power of renewables to enable decarbonisation of industry and transport, have been showcased.

Effectively tackling climate change will require the complete decarbonisation of all sectors of the economy and particularly some key industry and transport sectors using renewables as the most cost-effective, viable and attractive option.

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According to the AU Commissioner, Africa has been a minor contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “To date, energy-related CO₂ emissions in Africa represented around 2% of cumulative global emissions. Although Africa experiences rapid economic growth, its contribution to global cumulative CO₂ emissions is predicted to increases to only 3% by 2040 based on the current Stated Policies Scenario. However, Africa is among the regions hardest hit by the ravaging effects of climate change.” said Commissioner Abou-Zeid

“At AUC, we work around the clock in collaboration with international agencies, global and continental stakeholders to initiate programs that support in harnessing the African abundant renewable energy resources to ensure modern, efficient, reliable, cost-effective, clean, sustainable and environmental friendly energy to all African households, businesses, industries and institutions.” added Dr Abou-Zeid

In this context, H.E. Commissioner outlined the importance of a global clean energy transformation and presented some of the ongoing initiatives and programs, led by AUC in collaboration with global partners, including the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), the program for Renewable Energy in African Island States (REAIS), the New Deal on Energy for Africa spearheaded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative Implementation, Africa Bioenergy Policy Framework and Guidelines, Regional Geothermal Programme and Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility and many more.  

For African cities, the AU Commission has taken steps for a comprehensive and integrated urban transport and mobility policy. This policy will combine, among other things, measures aimed at reducing the use of private cars, the increased use of renewable energies and the promotion of mass transit transports, the systematic deployment of ITS and ICT solutions. 

Commissioner Abou-Zeid further stressed the importance of investing now on innovative solutions to provide access to energy, sustainable transport and urban mobility, and especially in digitalization as main mean to boost the post-COVID economic recovery. She emphasized the need to strengthening existing partnerships and working more closely to advocate the use of renewable energy resources in Africa to transform the Continent’s transport and industrial sectors to face issues of climate change and pave way for a sustainable economy.

Mr Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, said that IRENA’s latest report showed that “renewables employed 11.5m people in 2019. While COVID has certainly had an impact since, the sector is resilient. By directing stimulus packages towards green recovery the world can create 42m jobs by 2050. Innovation is creating the solutions we need to transform our energy systems and it will hone in on the actions needed to unlock their potential”.

“We believe hydrogen is key to the European Union’s (EU) decarbonisation strategy to carbon neutrality by 2050. We have members that plan to produce more energy than they can use, and others with excellent renewable energy sources to produce hydrogen” said H.E. Kadri Simson, EU Commissioner for Energy.

The meeting provided a strategic overview on the transformative impacts of innovation in challenging transport and industry sectors including a deep vision of what is happening, what is possible and what needs to be explored further collectively.

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