Africa’s energy transition a concern, six months later

What are the priorities for Africa in the face of climate change? Six months before COP27 in Egypt, this issue was at the heart of discussions at the Ibrahim Forum on Governance, which just ended on Friday 27 May in London.

For three days, representatives of African civil society and governments, including the current President of the African Union, Macky Sall, met to promote Africa’s position in the global climate debate. A position that was not heard enough, which is underlined by a report from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation published upstream of the forum.

Poverty, food insecurity, population movements, conflicts over resources …: The “Facts and Figures” report from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation paints an alarming picture of the consequences of global warming for the continent.

These African characteristics are not sufficiently taken into account, according to the Foundation, which recalls that the ten countries hardest hit by climate change are in Africa, countries such as Niger, Somalia or Chad, and that without concrete action, 40 million more people will fall into extreme poverty. .

► To read also:Climate change: Africa needs more funding, says the IPCC

On Wednesday, at the opening of the forum, Senegalese Macky Salla appealed for a fair energy transition for Africa. For him, the continent should be allowed to use its own resources, especially natural gas, to fill its energy deficit.

For the authors of the report, the development of renewable energy, in addition to gas, can stimulate a green economy on the continent.

Today, the Egyptian Minister of Energy received the results of the report. They will serve as the basis for the next COP27 next November in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

To protect the climate and provide access to energy for all

At the latest COP26 in Glasgow, several countries agreed to put a stop to the financing of fossil fuels. “A mistake” according to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between access to energy for all and climate protection. Interview with Nathalie Delapalme, CEO of the foundation.

What reality does Africa face when we talk about the end of fossil fuels?

NA: We are in Africa on a continent where 600 million people still do not have access to electricity – 600 million are twice as many as the United States and 1.3 times the population of the European continent – where 900 million people still do not have access to clean fuels for cooking, with major health consequences; so it means that we must succeed in finding a balance between the care of ensuring this access to energy for all and the protection of the climate.

To achieve this balance, you advocate the use of natural gas, but this solution goes against the will of the international community to get out of fossil fuels …

Again, on a continent where 600 million people still do not have access to electricity, it is clear that we can not immediately cope without gas as a transitional energy; Firstly because gas exists, we have 18 countries that produce gas, then because it is by far the least polluting fossil fuel. So to exclude gas from all funding, which was made at the last COP26, is in our view a mistake and a mistake that can be costly in terms of development for the African continent.

How to calm the international community?

We must succeed in finding both a balance point and I would say a path that allows us to continue to use gas, which allows us to make better use of gas while developing renewable energy. When I say use better: it also means finding ways to solve big problems: which are issues of distribution, transport and consumer access.

Why is it important that your message is heard?

We may risk developing solutions in the fight against climate change, but to the detriment of achieving the goals of sustainable development because we recalled the particular vulnerability of the African continent in terms of desertification and when we add the impact of Covid, plus the impact of the Ukrainian conflict today, means that we face great risks of increased instability, social crises, conflicts over resources. Therefore, do not sacrifice the commitments of the international community in terms of development solely for the sake of the climate. People’s lives are at stake, people’s lives immediately.

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