Sustainable energy transition no longer an option – experts

Experts at the ‘Climate finance for sustainable energy transition in Africa’ conference

With climate change affecting all aspects of societies and economies, transitioning to sustainable energy sources is no longer an option but a necessity.

This was the consensus reached among experts, including the Minister of State at the Finance Ministry Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam; Prof. Peter Quartey, Director-Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research at the University of Ghana; and Professor of Sustainable Finance at the European University Institute, Kenneth Amaeshi, at a high-level international conference on ‘Climate finance for sustainable energy transition in Africa’ in Accra.

They noted that sustainable energy transition means providing clean and affordable energy to power industries, and electrifying communities and fuelling innovation in the sub-Saharan sub-region. This, they said, is key to transforming economies, improving living standards and ensuring a brighter future for all.

Together, they called for coordinated and strategic partnerships among African countries to achieve impactful outcomes. Also, by leveraging public and private partnerships, Ghana and the continent, they added, can unlock the necessary capital and expertise to propel this transformation.

This comes at a point where the International Energy Agency estimates that an annual investment of approximately US$30billion is required in the sub-Saharan sub-region to achieve universal energy access.

“Africa stands at a critical juncture in its development trajectory, and the need for sustainable and just energy transitions has never been more apparent. Sub-Saharan Africa holds immense potential for renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power. By harnessing these resources, we can not only address the pressing challenges of climate change but also pave the way for inclusive growth and prosperity,” Dr. Amin Adam stated.

He stressed that to address these challenges and realise the vision of sustainable energy transitions in Africa by 2030 it is a must to mobilise substantial investments, as the quantum of investments needed to facilitate this transition is staggering.

“It is essential that we rise to the occasion. The International Energy Agency estimates that an annual investment of approximately US$30billion is required in the sub-Saharan sub-region to achieve universal energy access. This investment will not only bridge the energy gap but also create a ripple-effect, stimulating economic growth and opening new opportunities.

“To realise the full potential of renewable energy in our region, we must mobilise significant financial resources to build resilient and modern energy infrastructure. Investments in solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy projects will not only diversify our energy-mix but also create new economic opportunities and jobs for our people. Moreover, enhanced energy efficiency and innovative technologies’ promotion are crucial components of our journey toward sustainability. Investing in research and development of energy storage solutions, smart grids and electrified transportation will foster a more robust and interconnected energy network,” he added.

Acknowledging that the path to sustainable and just energy transitions in sub-Saharan Africa is challenging, he advised that the region work hand-in-hand to secure a brighter, cleaner and more prosperous future. He added that doing so should be seen as a moral and economic imperative.

He assured of the finance ministry’s readiness to champion policies that incentivise investments in sustainable energy projects and create an enabling environment for private sector participation.

For his part, Professor Peter Quartey iterated that through collective efforts the continent can unlock innovative solutions, identify actionable policies and secure the necessary financial resources to build a sustainable and resilient future.

Responding to others’ suggestions that transitioning can be based on each country’s development pace, he said: “It should be a gradual transition – but at a good pace and not too slow so you do not lag, because it might be more costly. If your development pace is slow, you should think about catching up and quickening your pace. We cannot continue to remain slow; the transition has to happen speedily,” he said.

Kenneth Amaeshi meanwhile explained that the continent must internally invest and intensify local production and consumption to achieve climate financing targets.

He said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) must be harnessed to its fullest, so that the continent does not end up depending on Western technologies in its transition efforts.

“To avoid these neo-dependencies, we need to invest in skills and empower our universities in appropriate and adequate knowledge production,” he concluded.

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