Energy Transitions To Clean & Renewable Sources in Africa

Solar power

In 2021 the world was coming out of the 2020 Covid-19 induced slowdown in the global economy; and the focus was on how to build resilience in countries across the world, to avoid plunging into a prolonged recession. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) held in Glasgow in the fourth quarter of 2021; world leaders pledged to realign their national development policies towards a green recovery. The green recovery agenda aims to help economies across the world build back better in the post-Covid-19 era.

The intention is to marshal green investments globally in order to drive economic growth; while at the same time addressing the environmental impacts of climate change. It is envisioned that by carefully designing green economy policies in sectors such as clean energy, clean transport and green building upgrades; countries will be able to attract significant green investments that will help create jobs and lead to overall economic growth.

On average, investing in renewable energy and other energy efficiencies is estimated to generate five times more jobs per USD 1 million spent; than when the same amount is spent in fossil fuels. This creates a solid economic development case for governments to prioritize cleaner sources of energy to power industries and households in their countries under the green recovery agenda.

Africa’s Green Recovery Action Plan

At the continental level, the African Union launched the African Union Green Recovery Action Plan (AU-GRAP) in 2021 to provide a framework to coordinate a continent-wide intervention to ensure that Africa gets back on track toward achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 targets. The AU-GRAP is designed to help African economies to recover from the Covid-19 economic setback; as well as deal with the threats of climate change across the continent. The action plan focuses on five priority areas including: climate finance, renewable energy, biodiversity and land use, resilient agriculture and resilient cities.

Under the climate finance focus area, the African Union Green Recovery Action Plan seeks to achieve the following key objectives among others:

  • Increase the flow of climate financing to Africa by enhancing accessibility of the funds and improving on the efficiency of the climate funding mechanisms across the continent.
  • Promote the use of policy-based and result-based climate finance tools to develop large pipeline of bankable projects appealing to private sector investors through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • Promote development oriented carbon trading mechanisms as well as explore opportunities for debt swaps for climate action in collaboration with the UN Financing for Development.

Under the renewable energy focus area, the African Union Green Recovery Action Plan seeks to achieve the following key objectives among others:

  • Promote investments in renewable energy to accelerate the transition to affordable, reliable and clean energy for the 600 million Africans that lack access to electricity; as well as create sustainable jobs in the sector
  • Promote energy efficiency and access by supporting investments in renewable energy generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure in rural areas.
  • Support national “Just Transition” programmes to hasten the transition from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy sources that are more economical and create more jobs per dollar that is invested.

Kenya’s Climate Change Action Plan

Kenya is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. The country’s contribution to global greenhouse gases (GHG) emission is negligible at less than 0.1%; with a per capita emissions of less than 1.2MtCO2e, compared to the global average of 7.58MtCO2e. That notwithstanding, Kenya signed the Paris Agreement on 22nd April 2016 and submitted its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) on 26th December the same year. The initial mitigation contribution under the NDC aimed at a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030; relative to the Business As Usual (BAU) scenario of 143 MtCO2e by 2030. In 2020, Kenya updated its NDC with an emission reduction target of 32%; and submitted the same on 28th December 2020.

Projections in the updated NDC for Kenya estimate a total Emission Reduction Potential (ERP) of 86MtCO2e; with the energy sector contributing 48MtCO2e (56% of the total ERP). Kenya committed to reduce 32% of it emissions by 2030, which is equivalent to 46MtCO2e as per the initial BAU. The remaining 40MtCO2e has been secured for carbon credits trading, with each sector having been allocated specific percentages for potential trading.

To achieve the target reduction of 32%, Kenya has prioritized several mitigation activities in different sectors. Within the energy sector, the following mitigation activities have been prioritized:

  • Progressively increase the proportion of renewables in the electricity generation mix of the national grid
  • Promote energy and resources efficiency across all sectors in order to reduce power wastage
  • Promote the use of clean, efficient and sustainable energy technologies in order to reduce the over-reliance on fossil fuels and other non-sustainable biomass fuels
  • Promote the transition into low carbon and efficient transportation systems

Mitigation activities from all sectors in Kenya are projected to cost USD 17.7 billion; of which the government of Kenya has committed to bear 21% and seek the remaining 79% from international sources. The international support is expected to be channeled in form of finance, investment, technology development and transfer, as well as capacity building for local people and organizations.

On the other hand, climate adaptation will cost the country USD 43.9 billion; with the government committing to meet 10% of the total cost and seek international support on the remaining 90%. Cumulatively, climate mitigation and adaptation in Kenya between 2020 and 2030 will cost USD 62 billion, of which the government will fund 13% and international support bridge the remaining gap of 87%.

To prepare itself to access, manage and track predictable climate change finance from domestic and international sources, Kenya enacted a National Policy on Climate Finance in 2016. The policy provides a framework to mobilize, disburse, manage, monitor and report on climate change finance from domestic budget allocations, public grants and loans from bilateral and multilateral agencies; as well as private sector investments.

Author: Jeremy Riro