By Staff Reporter
African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina has told a high-level international conference in Berlin that urgent action is needed to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and harness Africa’s renewable energy sources.
Making his remarks at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, hosted by the German federal government, Adesina called on Germany to invest in a cleaner, brighter, and more prosperous future for Africa. While underscoring Africa’s success enormous potential to become a global leader in sustainable development, Adesina highlighted the significant energy challenges millions of Africans still face. In 2022, at least 600 million people did not have access to electricity, and 970 million lacked access to clean energy for cooking.
Adesina said in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 of affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, the continent must connect 90 million people annually to electricity by 2030 and shift 130 million people from dirty cooking fuels each year. He acknowledged the scale of the challenge, noting that Africa’s energy transition would require an estimated $100 billion annually between 2020 and 2040.
Adesina said Africa’s significant reserves of cobalt, manganese, and platinum could be utilised to build a robust manufacturing sector rather than being merely exported as raw materials. Alluding to Europe’s push for emissions-free vehicles, the bank president said, “Africa is a crucial source for minerals and metals for clean energy value chains, including electric vehicles and utility-scale battery storage. Africa is therefore the perfect place to build lithium-ion batteries to power German cars.” The president also recognised green hydrogen as a low-carbon investment contributing to building decarbonised economies.
While the African Development Bank is spearheading efforts to unlock Africa’s vast renewable energy potential, with 86% of its power generation investments in renewables and a ban on coal energy projects, Adesina insisted that natural gas should be a crucial part of Africa’s diversified energy mix to guarantee a secure energy supply for industries and residences.
“Africa must be given time to transition and be allowed to use its natural gas resources as a transition fuel, just like it is the case in Germany, as well as Europe,” he said. Adesina said while Africa will do everything possible to expand the use of renewable energy, the intermittency sources such as wind and solar made it impossible to guarantee security of supply. “Natural gas is therefore a key part of the energy mix for assuring security of supply and critical for Africa,” Adesina said.
The annual Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue is a joint initiative of the German Renewable Energy Federation, the German Solar Association, the German Energy Agency, and consulting firm eclareon. The forum draws a wide range of prominent participants from the energy sector including policymakers and representatives from industry, science, and civil society. It provides a platform for discussion of experiences and ideas on a safe, affordable, and environmentally responsible global energy transition.
Other speakers included Kenyan president William Ruto and German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock. President Ruto urged the audience to “rise to the challenge of genuine partnership” to address the climate crisis and break the cycle of dependence that have plagued Africa for decades. Baerbock in her opening statement said the energy transition was “primarily about our security”. “Global security depends on getting away from fossil fuels,” Minister Baerbock said.