RES4Africa: sustainability stems from dialogue

Published on Monday, 25 June 2018

“Nowadays, sustainability must be considered an integral part of business, and not merely as a mitigation effort on past actions of an economic cycle. RES4Med&Africa credits this strategic focus with a pivotal role in accelerating Africa’s transition towards clean energy.”

– Antonio Cammisecra, CEO of Enel Green Power

This year’s edition featured representatives from Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa, together with major international financial institutions and private investors to foster high level talks on all necessary actions to undertake in the domains of vulnerability, risk assessment, adaptation, mitigation and financing of energy development projects. 

“While renewables are progressively standing out as an investment opportunity, the next objective in the cards is to render this transition truly sustainable, guaranteeing the economic, environmental and social soundness for African renewable energy projects.”

– Roberto Vigotti, Secretary General of RES4Africa

For instance, Africa sees a huge discrepancy in the overall population to electricity users ratio. Today, Sub-Saharan African is home to 14% of the world’s population but when people without access to electricity are concerned, the figures jump to 60%. As the International Energy Agency points out, out of 1 billion people living without electricity, 600 million come from Sub-Saharan Africa. Only 10 African countries boast access to electricity rates greater than 50%, while remaining countries in the continent have an average rate barely over the 25% mark. Yet, energy is the “silver thread” connecting economic growth, human development and environmental sustainability. 

“Thanks to the technological advances and a lower cost of renewables, adding up to the rise of new business models that exploit digital and mobile systems, new opportunities have surfaced to meet the needs of people who are currently seeking access to electricity.”

– Paolo Frankl – Head of IEA’s Renewable Energy Division

However, the process is by no means homogenous, from both a technology standpoint - solar and wind have higher growth rates - and geographic standpoint, while different barriers still hamper the full development of renewables.  In order to secure a reliable and affordable energy system we need to draw up an holistic approach that calls for the public and private sectors in sustaining a frank and continuous dialogue. This is the only way to provide the African continent with a viable contribution for its sustainable economic development