African heads of state gathered to attend the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., on 13-15 December.
At the summit, the United States affirmed and expanded its commitment and support of the continent’s conservation efforts, climate adaptation, and just energy transition.
At COP27 in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, in November, U.S. President Joe Biden announced to provide over $150 million in new funding to accelerate the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE).
The funds will help vulnerable countries and communities across the African continent adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change.
The USA also provided at least $1.1 billion in infrastructure projects and new initiatives across the African continent, which include the following:
- renewable energy projects and providing access to 165 million Africans across the sub-Saharan,
- technology transfer between U.S. tech companies to Africa, electrifying 10,000 health facilities,
- supporting and training women to work in clean energy jobs,
- supporting just energy transition in several African countries, investing in a biomass powerplant in Cote d’Ivoire,
- hydroelectric power in Sierra Leone, Battery energy storage in Zambia, Direct air capture with geothermal energy in Kenya,
- solar projects in Morocco,
- renewable energy and natural gas in Mozambique, and nuclear development in Kenya and Ghana, and many others.
In his speech at the summit, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged Africa’s high vulnerability to climate change and its need to adapt and the transition to clean energy.
Secretary Blinken (2022) says:
“As we know, 17 of the world’s 20 most climate-vulnerable countries are on the African continent.”
He said the four years of drought that hit the region had left more than 18 million in severe hunger.
“Severe storms have battered southern Africa; surging temperatures kindle wildfires in northern Africa; rising seas threaten lives and livelihoods on island nations, while extreme weather events in central Africa worsen already-dire food crises and fuel tensions that feed and fuel violent conflict.”
He added that these African nations have contributed little to the crisis but are disproportionally impacted by it.
Africa’s renewable energy potential and challenges
Although the continent has enormous potential for renewable energy like wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal energy, and Central and Southern Africa also have abundant mineral resources vital to developing electric batteries, wind turbines, and low-carbon technologies, the continent has so far been slow in its energy transition.
According to the IRENA report, “Renewable Energy Market Analysis: Africa and its Regions,” Africa has only made 2% of global investments in renewable energy in the last two decades, and less than 3% of global renewables jobs are in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the electrification rate was static at 46% in 2019, with 906 million people still lacking access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.
Africa’s growing population, forecasted to be at 2 billion by 2050, makes renewable energy vital to meet the continent’s future sustainable energy needs and socio-economic developments.
Why Africa is (2018) says:
“Africa has an almost unlimited potential of solar capacity (10 T.W.), abundant hydro (350 GW), wind (110 GW), and geothermal energy sources (15 G.W.). The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that renewable energy capacity in Africa could reach 310 GW by 2030, putting the continent at the forefront of renewable energy generation globally.”
The continent’s potential for renewable energy growth makes it an attractive green investment destination.
The United States partnering with the continent and committing to massive investments to help the continent transition to clean energy is a big win for Africa and the environment.
“We’re partnering to advance a just transition to a clean energy economy that both save our planet and fosters inclusive economic opportunity,” says Secretary Blinken (Secretary Blinken, 2022). He added that Africa would be the center of the clean energy transition.
Secretary Blinken At the Conservation, Climate Adaptation, and Just Energy Transition Forum. (2022 December 13). Newswires. Retrieved from https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/606163457/secretary-blinken-at-the-conservation-climate-adaptation-and-just-energy-transition-forum
US-Africa Partnership Supports Conservation, Climate Adaptation & Energy Transition. (2022 December 14). Mirage News. Retrieved from https://www.miragenews.com/us-africa-partnership-supports-conservation-914761/
FACT SHEET: U.S-Africa Partnership in Supporting Conservation, Climate Adaptation and a Just Energy Transition. (2022 December 13). The White House. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/12/13/fact-sheet-u-s-africa-partnership-in-supporting-conservation-climate-adaptation-and-a-just-energy-transition/
Why Africa is the next renewables powerhouse. (2018, December 7). African Development Bank Group. Retrieved from https://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events/why-africa-is-the-next-renewables-powerhouse-18822
Renewable Energy Market Analysis: Africa and its Regions. (2022 January). IRENA. Retrieved from https://www.irena.org/publications/2022/Jan/Renewable-Energy-Market-Analysis-Africa