The energy transition holds promise for Africa and the World. Africa has solutions to the global climate challenge, but Africa needs capital and good partners to scale them. If Africa can harness the next few years for energy transition, the world reaps the benefit. A trinity of benefits hold the key to Africa’s promise. But first we must establish the context. Africa accounts for only 4% of carbon emissions globally. Africa is the least industrialized region with only one country, South Africa categorised as industrialised. As a result, Africa’s own energy demand is expected to nearly double by 2040, as populations grow and living standards improve.
It is with this context that we identify Africa’s assets that hold the potential to catalyse the energy transition. First, it has a significant young population. As Europe greys, Africa greens. 60% of Africans are under 25 years old. By 2050 over 750 million young Africans will enter the workforce. The youthful energy represents innovation and productivity if harnessed. Secondly Africa has an abundance of renewable energy sources. Africa has about 60% of the world’s best solar resources and is home to 18 of the top 30 countries globally with the potential to generate solar power at scale. Africa’s potential wind power generation is 461 gigawatts, over 70 times current generation levels. That’s equivalent to over 50% of the world’s total wind power capacity. Today, Kenya derives over 84% of its power from geothermal energy. While it has 950MW installed capacity it has a 10,000 megawatts of geothermal energy potential. This makes Kenya and East Africa a competitive hub for hosting industries that utilise clean energy for manufacturing and industrialization. Thirdly in the trinity it has green minerals required for electric batteries and other components of a green energy transition. Africa holds over 20% of the world’s reserves in a dozen minerals, including Morocco’s 70% share of phosphate, DRC’s 70% of cobalt, Gabon’s 15% of manganese, and South Africa’s significant portions of platinum, manganese, to name a few.
Africa has a lot to offer in the energy transition, but it needs capital and good partners to scale its solutions. Africa has a young population, abundant renewable energy sources, and green minerals. However, only 2% of global investment in renewable energy went to Africa over the last 2 decades. Female entrepreneurs in Africa also get less funding than their male counterparts. Africa needs true partners that see it as an equal player, not a pawn. Investors and partners should understand the local context and nuance of each country and region. They should also include skilled African labor in building these industries in Africa and ensure that taxes are paid into, not flown out of, the country. A true partnership will ensure that the investor and country benefit.
This is Serah Makka’s Speech at the Women Energize Women 2023.
Serah Makka is Executive Director, Africa at The ONE Campaign.