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Africa requires more energy to boost economic recovery post-COVID-19, ECA declares

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The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has said the continent requires more energy to boost economic recovery post-COVID-19, noting that the continent’s energy depended on substitution and not transition.

It said the continent should deploy measures to ensure it had enough energy to power its rebuilding efforts, stating that its leaders should focus on infrastructure, supply and cost of energy.

Specifically, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, said following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade, education and health had moved to Information Communication Technology (ICT) platforms, consuming about 40 per cent of the continent’s energy resources.

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Speaking during a Res4Africa webinar on scaling up renewable energy investments in Africa, Songwe said for Africa to have a viable ICT sector that would boost its economic recovery, it would necessarily require extra energy.

She pointed out that private investments in renewable energy would play a crucial role in Africa’s recovery, especially with the launch of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Songwe maintained that Africa do not have transition problem in the scale of Europe, noting that the conversation for the continent’s energy matters had been to substitute expensive bad fossil fuels with cleaner and cheaper energy sources.

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“We have to replace fuel-based energy with green and sustainable ones and begin to honestly and seriously look at the financing structures of Africa’s infrastructure.

“We are financing infrastructure at shorter timelines than it takes to build infrastructure resulting in debt sustainability issues. Africa’s power utilities need to up their game if they are to play a crucial role in helping the continent to improve its economic fortunes post COVID-19.”

Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Francesco La Camera, said Africa’s energy decisions remain crucial to climate mitigation and socio-economic development.

He stressed the importance of energy transition to the continent’s post-COVID-19 recovery and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Africa’s long-term prosperity.

Also, Head of Energy Finance, Nedbank South Africa, Amith Singh, noted that there was a need for global initiatives that would leverage cooperation and investment if Africa’s renewable energy must be developed.

He said Europe could mitigate risks in Africa with sustainable programmes that would encourage the development of new policies, capacity building, local manufacturing and provide financial assistance.

On his part, Secretary-General, Res4Africa Foundation, Roberto Vigotti, said placing renewable energy at the core of Africa’s COVID-19 recovery was crucial to bridging the energy access gaps on the continent.

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