The current global climate change crisis has necessitated the need to explore other alternatives to the generation of energy. It is a fact that Africa presents the most significant potential to diversify into greener solutions that will sustainably drive Africa’s current and future energy demand.
It is with this context that Nation Media Group in Kenya, in conjunction with other actors in the energy space, organized the first-ever Sustainable Energy Conference to engage various stakeholders, including industry thought leaders such as Governments, Semi-Autonomous Government Actors (SAGA) in the Region to ideate and drive critical strategies that will shape the sector in Kenya, the region and the continent. Some key themes to be explored include Renewable Energy, Women in Energy, and Energy & Climate Change.
The conference was officially opened by Ambassador Dr. Monica Juma, the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Energy in Kenya. In her message, she called upon all stakeholders to take deliberate and bold steps to see Kenya, East Africa, and the entire continent achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. She thanked the organizers and wished all present an excellent conference that will have far-reaching results in combating the negative impact of climate change.
Some of the International organizations at the conference included- JICA, GIZ, International Finance Corporation, European Investment Bank, and African Development Bank. They all shared how they prioritize the sustainable goals in their various regional interventions. Don Bosco Tech Africa was represented by Br. John Njuguna.
The key highlights of the day were;
- Access to Energy should be declared a human right. Energy needs to be accessible, affordable, and sustainable as it will enhance the dignity of everyone.
- Africa has 40% of the global solar potential.
- Africa is blessed with a variety of clean and green energy- geothermal, biofuel, solar, hydro, and biogas. The potential is enormous, but only 1% is exploited.
- Only 25% of Sub-Saharan Africa is connected to electricity- this is significant potential for investment. The question remains on whether it is commercially viable owing to the low production activities in the continent as there is not much in manufacturing and industrialization.
- Significant challenges to full utilization of renewable energy in the continent include bad politics, high levels of corruption, unpredictable tax regime, political instability, poor leadership, and lack of patriotism at the individual level.
The following are the outcomes from the discussions of the day
- There is a need for sustainable financing in the area of renewable energy.
- Establishing a partnership in the investment will scale down the risk factors.
- No one should be left behind as we all need energy.
- All proposed solutions should be scalable, affordable, accessible, and sustainable.
- There is a need to invest in human capital development, especially STEM.
- A mismatch between the population growth and the growth in energy supply needs to be given the needed attention to avoid revising the gains. (12 million trees are required to provide fuel for cooking in institutions)
- Africa needs to develop its carbon credit market and make it attractive for people to embrace.
- Governments must promote a favourable investment environment to attract funding and investment, especially in industrialization.