Africa Climate Week: AEEP and Partners Discuss Aligning Energy Access and Climate Compatilibity
On 8 September 2023, the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), in collaboration with Strathmore University and SDG7 Youth Constituency, hosted the side event “Aligning Energy Access and Climate Compatibility in Africa” at the Africa Climate Week (ACW) in Nairobi, Kenya.
As climate change disproportionately affects the African continent and energy access remains a challenge for many, the event aimed to foster a constructive dialogue on achieving sustainable energy access while ensuring climate action.
Moderated by Mr Crispen Zana, Principal Energy Advisor, Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), the panel discussion stressed that achieving SDG7 and SDG13 are equally important, but that access to energy is a crucial starting point and enabler of other aspects of economic and social development, including empowering women. Prof. Izael Da Silva, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation at Strathmore University, noted that governments, the private, sector and academia must all work together for data-driven decisions that support the achievement of sustainable and affordable energy access for all.
Dr Towela Jere, Head of Economic Integration of AUDA NEPAD followed by highlighting that it is not only a question of access to energy, but that we must understand what the energy is used for and how is it turned into productive use. Furthermore, she stressed for young people must start thinking differently about how to approach governments. It is a two-way street, she said, young people have to find ways of coming into the spaces where policy is made.
Mr David Arinze, Global Focal Point, SDG7 Youth Constituency, shared experiences from working in Nigeria with energy entrepreneurs and youth. He said that it is rewarding to see the impact of funding energy projects in communities, but that although the technologies are readily available, a big concern is the way Africa is still seen as a transaction ground where for example solar panels are bought from outside Africa. Instead, he encourages action to support youth led clean energy projects to become bankable and start manufacturing renewable energy components on the continent.
Mr Eric Hoa, Policy and Programme Officer of EU Delegation to the African Union, European Commission, that we have moved beyon discussing merely ideas and must instead present concrete solutions. This is why, the EU is working together with the African Union Commission and AUDA-NEPAD to strengthen the regulatory environment to attract investments and supporting the modelling of the Continental Power System Master Plan (CMP) as the blueprint of the African Single Electricity Market (AfSEM).
Closing the discussion, Mr Johan van den Berg, Head of Secretariat, Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), summarised that listening to each other is one of the most important elements of success. From a bi-continental perspective he urged Europe to listen to African voices and understand the different starting points so that Europe and Africa can co-create the most sustainable solutions.