A very ambitious initiative could make Africa the cleanest continent – Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) an African-led plan to add 10,000 MW of additional renewable energy on the continent by 2020, has received over $10 billion in funding from international sources at COP21.
The mega-scale initiative wants to develop all sectors of African renewable energy by 2020, adding at least 10 GW of new renewable energy generation by then, and 300 GW more by 2030. If successful, it would make Africa the country with the largest percentage of renewable energy usage. African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina said:
“Africa is tired of being in the dark. The Lack of electricity has put the brakes on Africa’s industrialization. Through the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, we can sustain fast economic growth in Africa and on a low carbon development pathway.”
The plan is to accelerate solar, hydro, wind and geothermal energy, with a special focus on solar energy – for obvious reasons. Africa is a sun-rich continent almost throughout its entire landscape, and many areas unsuitable for agriculture or anything else could be used for solar energy.
“We are ready to engage in massive solar and wind energy production to attain 100% electricity reach for our people,” said Judi Wakhungu, Kenya’s environment cabinet secretary.
Africa is also at the forefront of fighting poverty, with 600 million people with no access to electricity, relying on wood or other biomass to cook and heat their homes, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths each year from indoor air pollution. Adesina also addressed the economic damage caused by lack of access to electricity, saying that the continent loses 4% of its total GDP because of the lack of clean energy.
“Africa is the continent suffering the most from the scorching heat from rising temperatures, and droughts have become more frequent and with greater intensity than ever before. Africa needs more money for adaptation. The continent has been short-changed by climate change. But we must ensure that it is not short-changed by climate finance. AfDB will triple its climate finance to $5bn a year by 2020,” he said.
Direct and separate plans for individual countries will be drawn in the next five years. The news comes as a coalition of 12 countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia and Malawi announced a goal to replant 100m hectares (247m acres) of forest across Africa in the next 15 years.