The heads of state of African nations have launched the African Renewable Energy Initiative in an attempt to provide 300 GW of renewable energy.
Launched on Tuesday at the COP21 United Nations climate talks in Paris, the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) was launched as the continent’s major contribution to the talks. African nations are often left out in the cold when it comes to the development of renewable energy capacity — which verges on the criminal, considering that African nations will be some of the first to feel the heat of global warming. This new initiative therefore aims to formalze the continent’s desire to increase its renewable energy capacity by as much as 300 GW — twice the continent’s total current electricity supply.
AREI will aim to deliver 10 GW by 2020, and then kick into high-gear to deliver the potential of 300 GW by 2030. The Initiative also aims to help African countries accelerate towards renewable energy deployment in an effort to support their low-carbon development strategies without losing economic and energy security.
Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), one of the major sponsors of the initiative, explained during the launch of the Initiative how Africa is regrettably referred to as the “dark continent.”
“Africa has 640 million of its people who don’t have access to electricity,” said Adesina. “A total of 700 million Africans have no access to clean energy and majority use charcoal and kerosene. This always leads to deaths. We must stop this.”
“The initiative is a game-changer as Africa loses 4 per cent of its GDP due to lack of clean energy,” Adesina added. “Sunshine should do more than just nourish our crops. It must light our homes. Our massive water resources should do more than water our farms, it should power our industries. Potential is important, but homes and industries cannot be powered by potential. Africa must unlock its renewable energy potentials.”
In line with this, the African Development Bank plans to triple its financing, up to 40% of the Bank’s total resources, to fund climate change initiatives by 2020.
Developing renewable energy in Africa has been a high priority in some areas, however. The World Bank recently published a new plan which calls for $16 billion to be invested to help the continent adapt to the rapidly changing climate in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is highly vulnerable to climate shocks, and our research shows that could have far-ranging impact — on everything from child stunting and malaria to food price increases and droughts,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “This plan identifies concrete steps that African governments can take to ensure that their countries will not lose hard-won gains in economic growth and poverty reduction, and they can offer some protection from climate change.”