Sustainable clean energy can boost Africa’s economic recovery
• Coronavirus presents opportunity for transition to renewable energy, says Osinbajo
• Nigeria’s post-COVID plan to include 5 million solar connections
As countries continue to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, a new guide by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), shows investment in clean energy would boost efforts by countries, and help them recover from the adverse effects of the disease.
According to The Recover Better with Sustainable Energy Guide for African Countries, released last week, investments in clean energy would also give the opportunity to reset economies, especially those of developing countries, and close energy access gaps.
The Guide said countries that commit to the Recover Better strategy today, could deliver long-term economic growth, new jobs, and sustainable energy for all in the long-term post-COVID-19.
It maintained that investment in the sector was key to the continent’s economic recovery post-COVID-19, as the pandemic had exposed the deep regional divide on energy access progress. It stated that Africa was a region of growing economic powerhouse, yet its progress was stifled by lack of access to sufficient, reliable, and affordable energy.
From the latest data on the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7), on access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030, the progress in Africa is still not on track to meet global targets.
From the data, 565 million people still lack access to electricity, and a further 900 million lack clean cooking solutions, while the pandemic risks setting progress even further behind.
According to the Guide, acting on the enabling measures put forward, countries across Africa would benefit from increased gross domestic product (GDP), affordable energy provision, and improved agriculture, gender and health outcomes. It could also spark the speed and scale needed to meet SDG7, and help put the global economy on a trajectory in line with the Paris Agreement and SDGs.
Speaking on the guide launch, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said COVID-19 had presented a unique opportunity for Nigeria to accelerate the transition to clean, affordable, reliable, and renewable energy sources offered by the sun.
He said Nigeria was committed to full utilisation of the abundant solar energy source, as the country had removed fossil fuel subsidies and included five million solar connections in its post-COVID economic sustainability plan, being the first steps to new jobs and a cleaner and healthier environment.
“The global economy is increasingly being powered by clean and efficient sources of energy. According to research, dollar for dollar investments in clean energy creates three times the number of jobs compared to fossil fuels. Every 1,000 customers connected to decentralised energy solutions like solar home systems or solar mini grids, supports approximately 25 jobs.”
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, Damilola Ogunbiyi, said as countries rebuilt economies from the impact of the pandemic, they were also faced with a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity to ‘Recover Better’ with sustainable energy.
He said: “There has never been a better time to invest in clean, efficient renewable energy. Countries that recover better with sustainable energy will see the payoff in the form of resilient economies, new jobs, and faster energy development. By making this investment, African countries can develop a competitive advantage.”
Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, Amina Mohammed, in her remarks, said access to sustainable energy is pivotal to achieving the SDGs and Paris Agreement, noting that African countries have the opportunity to drive faster progress on energy transition with efficient, renewable energy that protects the most vulnerable, delivers sustainable growth, and supports climate action.
Also, the Global Director for Energy and Extractive Industries, and Regional Director for Infrastructure in Africa, World Bank Group, Riccardo Puliti, said access to energy is crucial for Africa to recover from the on-going health, economic and social challenges caused by the pandemic.
His words: “We welcome this new guide from Sustainable Energy for All that outlines ways in which African countries can seize this unique moment, and in return, unleash economic growth with clean, and sustainable energy.
“Governments need to work now to establish or empower institutions such as regulators and rural electrification agencies to ensure the right frameworks are in place to successfully drive the development of renewables, increased electrification and access to clean cooking.
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