Africa’s climate challenge & clean energy potential
The overproduction of greenhouse gases continues to impact climate change on a global scale. At the same time, countries across Africa face an ongoing struggle to supply sufficient energy to their large, growing populations. Many of the continent’s most pressing developmental needs are intrinsically linked to an energy consumption requirement, and as a result, tackling the challenge of sustainable, ‘clean’ energy may seem like a daunting task.
According to Dr. Kandeh K Yumkella, chairman of UN-Energy, “there is no doubt that, if properly exploited, renewable energy resources in Africa can make a significant contribution to the continents energy supply.’ The question remains how to best realize this opportunity.
3-Fold Climate Challenge
In our Africa Conversation Series panel discussion entitled: ‘Climate-Proofing Africa’ Rohitesh Dhawan, Resource Economist at KPMG, explained that Africa’s climate challenge is three-fold:
- The continent, from an economic and social standpoint, needs to adapt to the expected impact of climate change.
- Economic development required in Africa will result in an increase in the production of greenhouse gas; this needs to be addressed and mitigated.
- Sustainable infrastructure and sustainable investments are needed to put effective measures (to combat climate change) in place.
Successful diversification of the energy mix
A significant amount of reform is required in order to deliver on the challenge of diversifying the energy mix in Africa. It has been identified that there is huge potential for hydro- and geothermal power production on the continent. In addition, plentiful year-round solar radiation and promising wind frequency in certain coastal and inland regions presents further renewable energy potential.
There is no doubt that the energy challenges facing our continent are pressing, and that they need to be urgently addressed. It has been estimated that in order to deliver a sufficient, clean electricity supply across Africa by 2030, an average of 27 billion US dollars is required. At this stage, an estimate of around 2 billion US dollars is invested in the renewable energy sector in Africa annually. This indicates a huge gap in funding which needs to be filled.
At KPMG, we believe that Africa is at the threshold of a renewable energy revolution, with climate change and sustainable energy increasing in rank on the developmental agenda. It is key that climate change remains a critical component of our overall development strategy, as the continent is vulnerable to the impact of these changes. Both the public and private sector need to consider careful investment and institution of infrastructure that will see us through the coming climate shifts.
Some may argue or debate that developing countries cannot be held to the same level of scrutiny as more developed regions. We do however need to remain competitive in the global space, as we are competing to attract investments. By incorporating sustainable initiatives into our industrialization process, we will have the capacity to differentiate ourselves and attract increased FDI potential.
The necessary solution
Renewable energy if not the cheapest solution, but it is the necessary one. While coal still presents the most affordable means of electricity production, it is far from sustainable and poses significant environmental threat. Dhawan suggests that in his experience some African countries have already achieved renewable energy production on a par with fossil fuel production, indicating that clean energy solutions are not beyond reach on the continent.
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