MIL-OSI Banking: Africa in search of a just energy transition

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Source: African Development Bank Group

While Africa produces no more than 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, experts believe the continent can contribute significantly to achieving overall emission reduction targets.

At a recent panel discussion during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, climate experts discussed how Africa could contribute to emission reduction and benefit from the dynamics of the global energy transition. The panel included experts from the African Development Bank, the African Energy Commission and the International Energy Agency.

According to Gareth Phillips, Manager of the Climate and Environment Finance Division at the African Development Bank, Africa has great green energy potential. “Now is the time for African countries to find ways to guarantee a cleaner future and become a net exporter of clean energies to Europe,” he said.

Rashid Ali Abdallah, Executive Director of the African Energy Commission, said African countries should contribute proportionately to global efforts to reduce carbon emissions. “When counting 900 million people in Africa who do not have access to clean energy for cooking and 600 million people who do not have access to electricity, we realize that the continent is already in a situation of carbon neutrality,” he said.

He said the concept of energy transition must be adapted to the African context to ensure fairness to all countries. The transition to clean energy will mean less dependence on fossil fuels. Africa’s share of global oil consumption is estimated at roughly 9%.  

Speakers said natural gas – the most widely used source of energy in North Africa – could help to drive the continent’s shift to low-carbon development. “Natural gas stands as an ecologically plausible solution for industrialization and clean cooking in Africa,” said Dr. Arron Tchouka Singhe, Chief Oil Sector Officer at the African Natural Resources Centre of the African Development Bank.

Dr Singhe also noted that a just transition “must help Africa end poverty and achieve the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.” We should be talking about “low-carbon development pathways” rather than “net-zero pathways” in Africa, he said.

Maximilian Jarrett, Africa Programme Manager at the International Energy Agency, said Africa must resolve the problem of access to energy and consider the local context to channel investments towards priority sectors. “We must ensure that the African Union’s 2063 vision is possible and is achievable,” he said.

The panelists said it was feasible for African countries to produce hydrogen from natural gas and to choose innovative technologies for carbon capture, storage and use in an environmentally friendly manner. Battery minerals like lithium and cobalt should be exploited to support the transition.

Callixte Kambanda, African Development Bank Manager for energy policy, said low-carbon development in Africa should translate into access for all to clean, affordable, and reliable energy to power homes and for productive use.

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