African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, has called on African leaders and investors to shift focus towards harnessing the continent’s renewable energy sources.
Akinwumi, while addressing participants at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, hosted by the German Federal Government, said urgent action is needed to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and harness Africa’s renewable energy sources.
While underscoring Africa’s success and enormous potential to become a global leader in sustainable development, Akinwumi highlighted the significant energy challenges millions of Africans still faced.
According to him, a report in 2022 reviewed that at least 600 million people did not have access to electricity, and 970 million lacked access to clean energy for cooking.
He said to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Seven of affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, Africa must connect 90 million people annually to electricity by 2030.
Akinwumi also said the continent must also shift 130 million people from dirty cooking fuels yearly.
He acknowledged the scale of the challenge, just as he disclosed that Africa’s energy transition would require an estimated $100 billion annually between 2020 and 2040.
According to him, Africa’s significant cobalt, manganese and platinum reserves could be utilised to build a robust manufacturing sector rather than being merely exported as raw materials.
Alluding to Europe’s push for emissions-free vehicles, he said: “Africa is a crucial source for minerals and metals for clean energy value chains, including electric vehicles and utility-scale battery storage.
“Africa is the perfect place to build lithium-ion batteries to power German cars.”
He also recognised green hydrogen as a low-carbon investment in building decarbonised economies.
The AfDB chief reiterated that AfDB was spearheading efforts to unlock Africa’s vast renewable energy potential, with 86 per cent of its power generation investments in renewables and a ban on coal energy projects.
He insisted that natural gas should be crucial to Africa’s diversified energy mix to guarantee a secure energy supply for industries and residences.
Akinwumi said, “Africa, just like Germany and Europe, must be given time to transition and be allowed to use its natural gas resources as a transition fuel.
“While Africa will do everything possible to expand the use of renewable energy, the intermittency sources, such as wind and solar, made it impossible to guarantee the security of supply.
“Natural gas is, therefore, a key part of the energy mix for assuring the security of supply and critical for Africa,”.
Kenyan President William Ruto while speaking urged the audience to rise to the challenge of genuine partnership to address the climate crisis and break the cycle of dependence that had plagued Africa for decades.
German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock said the energy transition was primarily about the security, and global security depended on getting away from fossil fuels.
The annual Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue is a joint initiative of the German Renewable Energy Federation, the German Solar Association, the German Energy Agency, and consulting firm eclareon.
The forum draws a wide range of prominent participants from the energy sector, including policymakers and representatives from industry, science and civil society.
It provides a platform for discussing experiences and ideas on a safe, affordable, and environmentally responsible global energy transition.