‘Carpe diem’; Africa can be energy giant

Solar energy

With seven of the 10 sunniest countries, including Kenya, Africa is perfectly placed to become a clean energy superpower

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The latest study by the world’s top climate scientists gives us a stark warning and points to the direction we must run to end Africa’s climate crisis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report adopted by UN member states warns that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025. But that is achievable only if the right policies are adopted.

Africa suffers climate change effects the most. The good news is, it can also lead the way in avoiding getting hooked to more fossil fuels and, instead, embracing the clean, green, renewable energy, ultimately putting to an end climate disasters. With seven of the 10 sunniest countries, including Kenya, it is perfectly placed to become a clean energy superpower, which will help to prevent toxic emissions from fossil fuels and address energy poverty.

Renewable energy supply

The world’s youngest continent is on the cusp of sweeping economic development and that need to be powered by home-grown renewable energy supply. If we choose to clog our air and water with climate-destroying fossil fuels, our economic gains will be undone by unbearable temperatures, erratic rainfall, severe droughts and devastating storms.

Even the head of the normally conservative International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, said last year if governments get serious about the climate crisis, there’ll be no new investments in oil, gas and coal.

Luckily, Africa is perfectly placed to take advantage of the latest developments in technology and scientific expertise. We can leapfrog fossil fuels, just as landline infrastructure straight to cell phones. That will not only benefit us economically, as with cell phones, but also avoid unfathomable harm to our social and environmental wellbeing.

Increase renewables share

A recent Climate Analytics report found that South Africa could increase the renewables share in its power generation from about five per cent to 78-90 per cent by 2030. And the host of this year’s annual COP27 UN climate talks, Egypt, could phase out gas from its power generation by 2040.

Not only will we see climate benefits from aggressively pursuing a zero-carbon energy system, it’s also cheaper. Solar is now the cheapest form of power generation, and we have more of it than elsewhere. In the past 12 years, wind and solar energy costs fell 72 per cent and 90 per cent, respectively. Battery technology follows with 85 per cent since 2010.

Energy imports are getting ever more expensive, especially with petro-dictators controlling fossil fuel reserves. Rather than spend on dirty energy, we should ensuring our sustainable energy independence by harnessing it from the sun and the wind.

Decentralising energy production through a network of distributed wind and solar installations, rather than allowing power to be concentrated in the hands of bad people who can use it to wage war, is something all civilised countries should pursue.

The science is clear. The economics are clear. The moral case is clear. What we need to see is our politicians making the smart, right and good decisions that will usher in a prosperous future for the world.

Mr Adow is director, Power Shift Africa. @mohadow