Africa’s transition to low carbon energy critical – AfDB

AfDBAfrica’s transition to a low carbon energy future is critical for global sustainability, especially for addressing climate change, Dr Timothy Afful-Koomson, Principal Green Growth Officer, African Development Bank (AfDB) has said.

He said globally, about 47 per cent of the increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from 2000 and 2010 directly came from energy supply, with industry, transport and buildings contributing 30 per cent, 11 per cent and three per cent.

Dr Afful-Koomson said this in Accra at a Green Growth Diagnostic for Africa (GGDA) workshop.

The workshop on theme “Green Growth Diagnostics for Africa: Understanding and Tackling the Binding Constraints  on Renewable Energy Investment in Ghana,” was organised by the Institute  of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana (UG) in collaboration with the Institute  of Development  Studies.

Other partners are the Kenya Institute of Policy Research and Analysis, New Castle University, Durham University, the Policy Practice and Ashington Ngigi.

The project seeks to develop a new Green Growth Diagnostics methodology and apply it to two African countries: Ghana and Kenya.

These countries are the research hubs of East and West Africa and it is believe that they offer a good opportunity to test the methodology in advance to their wider application to other African countries and beyond the African continent.

The workshop was therefore, organised to disseminate ISSER’s findings on Political Economy Analysis (PEA) of the binding constraints on renewable energy investment in Ghana, and to stimulate more dialogue among key stakeholders.

Dr Afful-Koomson said unreliable and costly power supply was a binding constraint for socio-economic development.

“So the GGDA and the related work on PEA of the Binding Constraints to Renewable Energy Investment in Ghana are spot on. One cannot overemphasise their relevance,” he stated.

He said energy was the driving force for economies and GDP growth; declaring that “there is a clear correlation between gross domestic products (GDP) per capita and power consumption per capita”.

“Lack of reliable electricity is the biggest obstacle to business operations in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

Dr Afful-Koomson said two key objectives of the ‘AfDB Ten Year Strategy’ (TYS) covering the period 2013-2022 are Inclusive Growth and a Transition to Green Growth to improve the quality of growth on the continent.

He said in pursuit of the TYS, AfDB had developed a Green Growth Framework (GGF) for Bank staff to provide the rationale, guiding principles and entry points of engagements with regional member countries (RMCs).

He noted that through the TYS and the GGF, the Bank had demonstrated the commitment to support the use of the green growth development model to spur innovation, productivity, entrepreneurship, employment and efficient use of resources in Africa.

On what is green growth? Dr Afful-Koomson said the AfDB looked at the development challenges confronting the region and came up with what green and inclusive growth on the continent should look like with the Hi-5s.

These are Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for Africans.

He said the Hi5s operationalise inclusive green growth and they were meant to help scale up the implementation of the TYS.

“Why is energy and by implication clean and RE important for inclusive green growth in Africa?” he quizzed.

He said more than 645 million Africans have no access to electricity while more than 730 million rely on biomass for cooking.

He said electricity access rates vary enormously by region; stating that “in South Africa the access rate is more than 85 per cent, and 95 per cent in North African countries; by stark contrast, it is less than 25 per cent in Central and East Africa”.

Dr Afful-Koomson said, countries such as Chad and Sierra Leone have access rates lower than five per cent.

He said Africa’s power consumption per capita was very low, compared to that of the rest of the world.

“The problem is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa, which has a per capita consumption of 181 kWh. 13,000 kWh per capita in United States and 6,500 kWh per capita in Europe,” he noted.

He said low access levels to modern energy was one of the reasons why many people resort to the use of harmful energy sources to meet their daily needs.

He said potentials for inclusive green growth in Africa was enormous, with only a fraction of it being currently tapped.

Patterning to the use of renewable energy in Ghana, Dr Afful-Koomson asked: “How could we use results from the GGDA/PEA to provide policy guidance to a country that is dependent on fossil fuels to drive its economy?”

He said fossil fuel represented about 50 per cent of Ghana’s energy mix with public expenditure on energy subsidies representing significant percentage of the national budget.

“This country is pursuing 10 per cent target of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020.

“We have almost come to the end of 2016 and RE in current energy mix is below one per cent,” he said.

He said information from the GGDA could help identify, which policies and regulations would be necessary to provide the enabling environment and incentives for which types of renewable energy in order to scale up investment in RE to at least realise half of the 10 per cent target.

He called for the promotion of resource-use efficiency; stating that “the human ‘wastes’ that are posing sanitation challenges in several major cities such as Accra are actually sustainable ‘resources’ that could be transformed into clean and affordable energy to help improve accessibility and reliability of energy supply in the area.”

“The sustainable treatment of these ‘wastes’ may also help to address the vicious poverty cycle arising from  poor sanitation and health-related hazards,” he added.

On performance and returns, Dr Afful-Koomson said there was the need for information on best practices of designing projects, providing enabling environments for projects, financing and risks products that helped generate better performance and risk-adjusted returns for specific renewable energy projects.

Dr Charles Ackah, Acting Director, ISSER, said the Institute had conducted research into the impact of the energy crisis (dumsor) on small-scale enterprises in Ghana since 2012.

He said electricity played a critical role in a nation’s socio-economic development; and that the earlier Ghana found a lasting solution to its energy needs, the better.

Dr Simon Bawakyillenuo, Project Lead, ISSER, said the project sought to find the binding constraints for investment in economically viable RE; and policies, which could effectively target different binding constraints?

He said the PEA identified the actors, alignments of interests or alliances that obstructed or drove the adoption of specific sustainable energy policies in Ghana and Kenya.

Professor Paul Yanking, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography and Resource Development, UG, who chaired the function called for the promotion of RE in Ghana as part of efforts to address the impact of climate change.

Source: GNA

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