Africa Progress Report speaks of continent’s green energy leaders

African countries are emerging as global green energy leaders, although electricity constraints still hamper growth in many regions of the continent. The Africa Progress Report points to inequality in pricing and a need for greater investment.

 african_progress_report_kofi_annan_article Kofi Annan says that one of the alarming findings of the African Progress Report is that 621 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have a lack of access to electricity. (Image: Screen grab via YouTube) 

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Melissa Javan

Several African countries are emerging as leaders in the global transition to low carbon energy, according to the African Progress Panel (APR).

South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda were identified as the frontrunners in the report. These countries are developing very large power generation plants that use renewable energy.

The report, which was released on 5 June, revealed that South Africa generated half of the electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report is the annual flagship publication of the ten-member Africa Progress Panel. The panel is chaired by Kofi Annan, the Ghanaian diplomat and former secretary-general of the United Nations, and Graça Machel, the human rights advocate and board chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health.

“The APR draws on the best research and analysis available on Africa and compiles it in a refreshing and balanced manner,” explains the panel. “The panel makes policy recommendations for African political leaders and civil society who collectively have the primary responsibility for spurring Africa’s progress.

“In light of the continent’s dynamic links with the rest of the world, the APR also highlights critical steps that must be taken by leaders in the international public and private sector.”

The title of this year’s Africa Progress Report is Power, People, Planet: Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities.

Watch the press conference with the panel here:

Challenges

Annan says it is alarming that an estimated 600 000 Africans die each year as a result of household air pollution, half of them children under the age of five. For this reason, he explains, the report recommends that aid donors and financial institutions do more to unlock private investment through risk guarantees and mitigation finance.

He adds that 621 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, lack access to electricity. Another concern is that the poorest people in Africa are paying among the world’s highest prices for energy per kilowatt-hour kWn.

For example, people in the US pay $0.12 for energy per kilowatt-hour, while poor households in Africa pay $10 per kilowatt-hour.

The APR estimates that 138 million households use charcoal, kerosene and firewood and similar fuel for energy.

 african_progress_report_electricity_2_article The report’s findings show how the poorest of Africa are suffering without electricity. (Image: Infographic from African Progress Report)

The poorest affected

Turning to climate change, the report reveals that the most severe and immediate effects will be felt by the rural poor. “If global average temperatures are allowed to increase by 4˚C, large areas used for cropping sorghum, millet and maize would become unviable,” it says.

“In some areas drought could become more prolonged and severe. In other cases, productivity levels will be affected by unpredictable rainfall, increased temperature and flooding.

“Rising sea levels could threaten coastal cities such as Accra, Dar es Salaam and Lagos. Hydropower systems could be compromised by reduced rainfall and increased evaporation.”

Endorsements

The APR strongly recommends that governments and private institutions work together to deliver affordable energy to the poor in Africa. Its recommendations include:

Stopping the secrecy – foreign investors and African companies should provide full disclosure of their beneficial ownership structures and report transparently on energy-related contracts, including electricity off-take arrangements.

Linking African cities to the growing range of global city networks to unlock new opportunities for knowledge exchange, capacity building and financing.

Watch Kofi Annan call on the international community to make commitments needed to limit global warming: