Renewables: The Unrecognised Opportunity
Energy is the key to Africa’s social and economic development: it is the foundation for industrialisation, innovation and job creation. But the continent’s development is hampered by deep structural challenges, dependencies and energy poverty. Access to electricity is lagging. For some countries, fossil fuel is the backbone of the economy; for many others, it represents a substantial share of government spending.
A change in thinking
A change of direction is needed to improve the energy situation. Given its unparalleled potential for renewables, Africa’s starting point for developing a local, resilient and sustainable energy sector is strong. But, only 2% of global renewable investments occur on the continent and renewables continue to be seen as a solution to energy access. But renewables are so much more. What needs to happen to build on this opportunity?
A different perspective
Energy is deeply embedded in the larger structures of our societies and economies, meaning that many players have their views on energy and could benefit from renewables in different ways. These benefits need to be at the heart when defining the energy future. This approach is necessary to build up societal and market acceptance, and, through this, political acceptance.
The opportunity of renewables
Renewables do more than provide the necessary energy services: they are an opportunity; they are an enabler. Renewable energy supports economic development by ensuring a stable and secure energy supply, reducing expenses and managing costs. It can alleviate poverty and improve energy access. Renewable energy can ensure clean air and a healthy environment, support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts and allow for energy democracy and sovereignty.
By harnessing the potential of renewable energy, Africa’s young, dynamic, growing economies can drive economic development, support innovation, be climate resilient and engage fully in the global economy.
We spoke to various voices across the African continent to understand more about the role of energy, dive into the #VoicesofChange video series to hear their thoughts. Also, REN21 invites everyone to join the discussion about what renewables mean for Africa at the next #RENdezvousAfrica event.