COVID-19’s negative impact on Africa’s economies have magnified the importance of achieving energy security as part of the recovery strategy from the pandemic.
This is according to the Africa Energy Indaba 2021 team.
Energy security would enable countries to endure pandemics and realise post-crisis economic recovery.
This comes after all economic projections predict that African economies will struggle picking up after the pandemic.
Africa Energy Indaba 2021 is the continent’s definitive energy event, providing an agenda that influences Africa’s energy policies.
The team released an assessment on energy security yesterday.
They explained clean energy and the innovative technologies that accompany it, represent a critical catalyst for the continent’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The team said after the pandemic it will be imperative to address Africa’s power crisis and implement a clear strategy for the continent’s recovery.
In the first few months of 2020, Namibia generated 1 283 million MW of power and imported 908 536 MW from South Africa and from the Southern African Power Pool, according to the Electricity Sectoral report for May 2020.
The team advised that energy solutions should consider energy transition and the utilisation of renewable energy, with the emphasis on smart-power technologies.
Innovative solutions are associated with cost-effectiveness, as well as the global vision to achieve a decentralised, de-carbonised and secure energy supply that overcomes climate change and incites healthy economic growth, the assessment said.
The team said the employment of smart solutions will ensure more flexible and connected energy outcomes, subsequently improving transmission and distribution lines and ultimately assisting in meeting the energy demands of African countries.
“Such initiatives will ensure reliable, sustainable and cost-effective electricity in the years to come, thereby ramping up Africa’s post-pandemic recovery in the process,” the Indaba team said.
They quantified that digitalisation within Africa’s energy sector is set to contribute to a wealth of job opportunities, millions of which have been lost to the pandemic.
Moreover, advancements in energy technologies, such as renewable energy, clean coal and nuclear energy, energy storage, off-grid technologies, smart grids, mini solar kits and small wind-power plants provide an array of opportunities for new investment and development in the sector.
The digital realm also has the capacity to upskill workers, improve capital productivity and labour efficiency as well as improve countries’ energy security, accessibility and affordability.
The team said digitalisation will improve the collection and use of data to gain insights in improving efficiency and productivity levels, further boosting the energy landscape once the pandemic has lifted.
“Unprecedented times such as these call for unprecedented methods,” they said.
They said countries’ stimulus packages and recovery plans need to include investments in renewable energy and digitalisation initiatives, as well as low-carbon technologies.
Moreover, the economic packages should comprise investment in sustainable infrastructure and ‘green’ job creation to ensure the crisis can be reformed into a remarkable opportunity for a sustainable, inclusive, resilient, just and resource-efficient society.
The Energy Indaba team said the continent has a significant responsibility in innovating smart-power solutions for a post-Covid-19 world.
“Within developing economies there are growing opportunities to implement new technologies and localised energy-generation schemes that bring about innovation,” they said.
With the rise in cost-effective renewable energy, the Energy Indaba proposes the decentralisation of energy production, and advancements in energy storage, smart metering, and various other groundbreaking digital technologies.
The team said digitalisation “is set to transform the way power is generated and consumed, thereby priming Africa for a thriving energy landscape well into the future”.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has recognised renewables as the only energy source set for increased demand in 2020, with solar and wind generators most opportunely placed to weather the economic storm owing to the flexibility and cost competitiveness they provide.
The renewable sector is proving its resilience amid a crisis, further reinforcing the case for economic recovery strategies to be driven by investments in the sustainable energy sphere.
In addition, involving renewable technologies in the energy mix ensures a more flexible and reliable energy generation system.
The IEA says progression in increasingly more affordable storage technologies has enabled renewable energy units to become progressively more reliable.
The agency says the flexibility of renewable projects and low-carbon technologies to be set up where national grids are not reaching fosters greater community inclusion than their fossil fuel counterparts.
This is projected while simultaneously increasing the resilience of the energy system, providing a solution that incorporates economic recovery with a decline in emissions and carbon footprint.
The Africa Energy Indaba 2021 summit’s dialogues will focus on African energy sector innovations, investigating near and long-term prospects for technological advancement.