Inclusivity and sustainability are key to supporting African economies transition away from fossil fuels and into clean energy pathways. As highlighted by Antonio Guterres at a COP26 Virtual Roundtable on ‘Clean Power Transitions,’ calling it both “an injustice and an impediment to sustainable development” that some 789 million people across the developing world are without access to electricity -three-quarters of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Current energy use statistics in Africa reveal more than 70% of the region is dependent on traditional biomass fuels. Although Africa has 13% of the global population, its share in global electricity consumption is less than 3%, and only 25% of Africans have access to electricity. Nonetheless, the renewable solutions and opportunities do exist. According to Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Director for UNEP’s Africa Office, “renewable energy can and will change the African energy challenges and narrative.”
The countries of the East African Rift region alone have significant geothermal potential for electricity production. Direct use of geothermal resources has the capability to power economic growth and livelihoods of rural communities across the continent through meaningful participation of communities in the development and implementation of geothermal projects. For governments, it could mean meeting theUN SDG’s and the climate objectives set out by the Paris Agreement.
Last November’s ARGeo conference confirms growing momentum as delegates agreed to increase geothermal resources installed by a capacity of at least 2,500MW of electricity in the region by 2030. Participants also recognised the need for multi-stakeholder and regional cooperation, innovation and capacity building to accelerate the development of geothermal resources in Africa. It’s now a case of financing them, scaling up and accelerating them.