Climate activists have joined forces to call for the removal of barriers hindering the widespread adoption of renewable energy in Africa, as part of the commemoration of Africa Day on May 25.
A research report released by 350Africa.org sheds light on the challenges faced by West African countries in implementing renewable energy and climate change policies.
The study identifies various obstacles, including a lack of awareness, limited technical expertise, insufficient investment, inadequate financial mechanisms, absence of tax incentives, absence of local manufacturing and assembly facilities and inadequate policy and regulatory frameworks.
Benin, Togo, Ghana and Nigeria were the focus of the research, which aimed to pinpoint areas where intervention is needed to promote the adoption of renewable energy and facilitate a just transition on the continent. The report emphasises the necessity of raising awareness about the benefits and opportunities of renewable energy, eliminating financial barriers, implementing supportive policies, encouraging innovation and research and enhancing workforce skills.
Simultaneously, civil society organisations and grassroots groups within the Afrika Vuka network organised actions across Africa to emphasise the crucial role of renewable energy in addressing the energy and climate crises in the region. These groups emphasised the urgency of dismantling barriers to the establishment of community-centred renewable energy systems and the phasing out of fossil fuels, as Africa already bears a disproportionate burden of climate impacts.
The regional director of 350Africa.org, Landry Ninteretse stressed the significance of Africa’s renewable energy potential in combating the climate crisis and leading the global energy transition. He called for collaborative efforts from governments and other stakeholders to address barriers to renewable energy, particularly finance and policy, by creating a favourable regulatory environment and accelerating the shift away from polluting fossil fuels. Ninteretse emphasized the criticality of consistent investment in community-centred renewable energy solutions to avoid catastrophic climate impacts and secure a sustainable future.
A climate activist and the founder of the Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem (GIFSEP) in Nigeria, Michael Terungwa highlighted the need for safe, reliable, and sustainable energy systems to drive African economies. He underscored that continued dependence on polluting fossil fuels has resulted in devastating climate crises, such as the severe flooding that affected Nigeria last year. Terungwa urged Nigeria’s new leadership to demonstrate political will by implementing policies that facilitate the adoption of renewable energy and support a just transition.
The national coordinator of 350 Ghana Reducing Our Carbon (350GROC), Portia Adu Mensah emphasised the necessity of an ambitious and concrete plan for renewable energy in Ghana. She advocated for at least 30 per cent renewable energy in the country’s energy mix by 2030 and stressed the importance of breaking free from fossil fuels. Mensah also emphasised the need for accessible small-scale, off-grid renewable energy that considers community views, interests and environmental well-being.
A representative from the Renewable Energy Coalition, Raïssa Oureya highlighted the significant potential for renewable energy in Benin and Togo, two countries heavily reliant on energy imports. The newly launched Renewable Energy Coalition aims to advocate for the adoption of renewable energy in these nations to enhance energy security and address the climate crisis. In addition to the research report, the coalition organised various awareness-raising actions to promote renewable energy’s role in sustainable development and encourage a clean energy transition.
A senior campaigner at 350Africa.org in South Africa, Ferron Pedro drew attention to the energy crisis in the country, emphasising the dangers of relying on fossil fuels. Pedro asserted that a just energy future, built on socially owned renewable energy, is both possible and necessary to ensure affordable and safe energy access for all while creating green jobs. The campaigner called for transparency and meaningful public participation in the implementation of just energy transition programs, placing the needs and interests of workers, communities, and marginalised groups at the centre of local renewable energy industry development.
By highlighting the barriers and advocating for the removal of obstacles hindering renewable energy adoption, these climate activists and organisations aim to accelerate the transition toward sustainable energy systems in Africa. Their collective efforts seek to address the pressing energy and climate challenges faced by the continent and pave the way for a cleaner, more resilient future.