RENdez-vous event series for Africa | What do renewables mean for Africa?

What do renewables mean for Africa?

Wednesday 10 November 2021

November 10 marked the first event in the new RENdez-vous Africa: Dialogue Series. Titled “What do Renewables Mean for Africa?”, the first event brought together African players from both within and outside of the renewable sectors to exchange on this question. The event was an opportunity to start the process of identifying common interests and ways to broaden the energy discussion to non-energy sectors.

Ali Zerouali (Director Of Cooperation & International Development at Masen) and Joel Nana (Senior Project Coordinator at Sustainable Energy Africa) gave two brief commentaries, and participants then discussed the topics raised in breakout rooms.

In Africa, conversations around renewable energy need to move beyond those of basic energy access, climate mitigation and adaptation. While these are important, the uptake of renewables also needs to be discussed in the context of economic development and innovation; supporting broader societal development; and bolstering the extraordinary potential of the continent.

But to succeed in securing the energy necessary for Africa’s development, we need to discuss candidly what renewable energy means for Africa.

RENdez-vous Africa: Dialogue Series | Strategic discussions around renewables in Africa

Competing priorities—economic recovery, stabilising health crisis—exacerbated by COVID-19 are reducing the space for a public discourse for the uptake of renewables and the broader energy transition.

This clearly threatens the momentum renewables have generated over the last decade, and even risks reversing some of the hard-fought gains. The weak links in the sector, i.e. scattered voices, disconnected priorities, limited scale and resources need to be strengthened, particularly in critical hot-spots and in vulnerable countries. We need to work together more strategically, to bring renewables to the centre of attention and planning to drive economic growth, social equity, and innovation.

Doing this requires integrating renewables across all sectors and creating societal support. It is also about building and bringing the community together more strategically, to increase its collective influence in the global energy debate, linking global and local voices.

Making renewable energy mainstream also requires forging bridges outside of the renewable energy bubble well beyond the “usual suspects”. We need to identify, build on and collaborate with players to collectively widen and amplify the renewable energy voice. This means broadening the renewable energy community regionally and into new sectors. It also involves bringing the right information to this community so it can be more effective, strategic and influential.

The strategies and narratives to make renewable energy mainstream differ regionally. We need to understand the underlying drivers and drags to renewables uptake in each region and develop strategies to address or enhance them. In Africa, strategies to move to renewable energy need to be situated in the context of green recovery, energy growth and sustainable development. This is critical to create societal support for renewables, support economic development and innovation and develop a renewable narrative beyond the climate topic.

What is a RENdez-vous?

REN21 hosts these events to inspire and to offer opportunities to learn and share across sectors. While each event is unique, one thing remains consistent: at every RENdez-vous there is time to meet and network with people from the greater renewables community, inclusive of many different sectors. Learn more and join the next event…