•Europe needs to prioritise funding to help Africa adapt to the climate impacts already taking place. Impacts that have been caused in large part due to European emissions.
•With financing from the EU, this initiative had set the goal of achieving 10GW of renewable energy by 2020 and have Africa produce 330GW of energy by 2030.
After years of delays, the sixth summit of the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) heads of state and government will take place in Brussels, Belgium, on February 17 and 18, under the joint chairmanships of the host country and Senegal.
The summit is important owing to its potential to reset the Europe-Africa relationship in the changed context of post-Covid-19 green recovery, and the entire question of climate change as a looming emergency.
It is coming in a year in which both continents seek to extend their geopolitical roles and economically transform their peoples’ livelihoods after suffering the consequences of the pandemic.
It is, therefore, a crucial event to reorient Europe-Africa relations and to create a coherent, encompassing, and truly collaborative strategy that builds on previous successes, through renewable energy innovation and implementation of strategies and issues agreed on in past events.
Africa can use the summit to demonstrate global leadership in climate by bringing adaptation to the heart of the discussions and helping Europe form a more well-rounded international climate strategy. At the same time, Africa can take advantage of Europe’s expertise in clean energy transition, technology and innovation, and financial instruments.
Not surprisingly, climate change and energy transition are a key agenda at the event and are of great importance to both continents. It is on this agenda that both sides can start rebuilding trust by demonstrating willingness to move from words to action. Africa can firmly assert its own transition priorities and link them to its development goals.
In this regard several areas of collaboration emerge including increasing clean energy transition and access by taking advantage of Africa’s untapped renewable energy potential. Africa has the world’s largest renewable energy resources, enough to meet a quarter of its energy needs by 2030, create jobs and offer unlimited benefits. This is critical on a continent where 580 million people lack access to power.
Collaboration between EU and Africa are critical in climate adaptation, resilience, in developing robust and equitable trade, and in leadership in climate innovation with a focus on green hydrogen, an area in which Africa could become a leader.
Europe needs to prioritise funding to help Africa adapt to the climate impacts already taking place. Impacts that have been caused in large part due to European emissions.
With the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta to chair the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) during the recent AU summit, there have been calls for him to take the responsibility and lead governments through “concrete actions” to overcome the climate crisis facing the continent.
CAHOSCC has been urged to lead efforts in utilising our huge renewable energy potential, to up the continent’s push in tackling the climate crisis. Sadly, 60 per cent of international public finance for energy funds fossil fuels, compared to 18 per cent for clean energy projects.
For Africa to switch from dirty fossil fuels, we need a truly African clean energy revolution. The continent needs the support to harness renewable energy and use it to power its development and tackle the many challenges its people face.
Lastly, the summit is an opportunity for Africans to seek an update on clean energy initiatives such as the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), an ambitious multimillion dollar programme conceived during COP21 in 2015 in Paris, France.
With financing from the EU, this initiative had set the goal of achieving 10GW of renewable energy by 2020 and have Africa produce 330GW of energy by 2030.
A successful reset will set the stage for an impactful COP27, which will be held this November in Africa.
Mohamed Adow is the Director of Power Shift Africa, a Nairobi-based Energy and Climate Think Tank and can be reached on [email protected].