THE JUST ENERGY TRANSITION: The Diversity of Africa’s Natural Resources is a platform for Economic, Social and Sustainable Development

  • Home
  • News
  • News
  • THE JUST ENERGY TRANSITION: The Diversity of Africa’s Natural Resources is a platform for Economic, Social and Sustainable Development

Africa has been substantially impacted by natural disasters, which are set to increase in severity and frequency. Although it has only contributed marginally to greenhouse gas emissions (about 4%), climate change acts as a risk multiplier, amplifying the intensity of extreme weather events, increasing unpredictability, and exacerbating vulnerabilities. Both the changing realities of climate in Africa today and modeling of future outcomes show that Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate risk.

Meanwhile, 600 million Africans still do not have access to electricity. This situation will become increasingly worrying as the continent prepares to double its population by 2050.

In the face of this, Africa is largely underfunded in both mitigation and adaptation.

According to the Climate Policy Initiative, structural projects would allow the continent to have access to a considerable and indispensable financial windfall to adapt to climate change and to engage in the energy transition whose needs amount to USD 250 billion per year over the period 2020 to 2030. In this race to finance the energy transition, Africa is full of resources such as rare metals, cobalt, lithium or copper, but also traditional resources such as oil and gas. According to the World Bank, African countries are now earning on average less than 40% of the revenue they could potentially earn from all their natural resources.

Oil and gas as well as mineral resources, backed by exemplary governance, will therefore be crucial in the coming years for Africa’s economic development. They will also be catalysts to create jobs for a growing African youth.

Beyond the continent’s sovereignty to be able to use its natural resources and its economic development, the challenges of climate change adaptation and energy transition are at stake.

By using its water, solar and geothermal “resources”, Africa can develop its renewable energy potential estimated at 1.478 TWh/year for hydroelectricity, 1.449.742 TWh/year for solar energy and 105 TWh/year for geothermal energy. This would cover 2,000 times the current consumption and meet the needs of the continent. Today, this potential is only used up to 10 to 15%.

Africa also has the potential to generate green hydrogen. According to the European Investment Bank, Africa could produce 50 million tons of this energy source by 2035 (making it the world’s leading energy source) and thus accelerate its economic growth (significant investment in infrastructure, job creation, etc.) while reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.

To prevent the African continent from using its mineral and fossil resources in the name of climate change for which it is not responsible is therefore, not the appropriate way.

It seems rather appropriate to work towards the responsible use of its resources, which are now essential to fight poverty and face the challenges brought by population growth.

It also seems much more appropriate to accompany the continent in a more proactive way along the path of energy transition, the path having already been taken but encountering the major obstacle of insufficient financing.

Africa’s right to develop in a sovereign and independent way, including through the extraction of its natural resources, is compatible with the fight against climate change. One does not oppose to the other.