The clean energy transition is an opportunity for many African countries to bypass traditional fuels and infrastructure and jump straight into building sustainable energy systems, but they will need support from the international community, especially to attract the necessary investments.
Ministers and stakeholders from across Africa gathered a few days ago in Paris at an event organized by the International Energy Agency to share their experiences and insights perspective on the continent's energy priorities and challenges. The event was chaired by Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten ahead of the 2022 IEA Ministerial meeting.
Assessing the situation following the COP26 Climate Change Conference last November – and ahead of COP27, which Egypt will host later this year – participants at today's event agreed on the need for enhanced international action to remove existing barriers to clean energy investment and promote the deployment of capital across the continent.
Africa is already one of the most climate-affected regions of the world and is home to one-sixth of the world's population. Yet it represents less than 6% of global energy consumption and 2% of cumulative global emissions. The continent faces a parallel imperative to extend access to electricity to the hundreds of millions of citizens who are currently without it, which would boost economic growth and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
At the same time, Africa has the potential to play a leading role in transitioning global energy systems to a net zero future. The continent's geographic diversity holds enormous potential for solar and wind energy, and its soils are home to many minerals and rare earths needed for clean energy technologies.
The IEA has a long history of paying particular attention to Africa, particularly in relation to its work on energy access issues. The Agency 's analysis has highlighted that due to perceived risks, energy investments in Africa often face much higher financing costs than comparable projects in developed markets. Later this year, the IEA plans to release its latest Africa Energy Outlook report , which will focus on this particular issue ahead of COP27.
Following today's event, Minister Van der Straeten recommended to all AIE members that the Agency further deepen its engagement with Africa to identify practical steps that industry, governments and international organizations can take to reduce the cost of energy investments while focusing on technologies best suited to Africa.
The IEA 2022 Ministerial Meeting was held in Paris on March 23-24 on the theme of Accelerating Global Action on Clean Energy and Energy Security. It was chaired by US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. Ministers from AIE member countries, Association and Member countries, and other key partners participate in the events alongside senior representatives from industry, finance and society civil.