The African Union Com­mission (AUC) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have stated that the energy po­tential in Africa can turn the COVID-19 crisis into an oppor­tunity for the continent and its population.

AUC and IRENA recently held a virtual high-level dia­logue to discuss Africa’s needs in responding to the COVID-19 crisis and the role of the energy transition in the post-pandemic recovery.

The dialogue brought togeth­er a number of ministers and high-level participants from Af­rica, Europe, the GCC and the European Union, as well as Vice Presidents of the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB), the UNDP Administra­tor, the Director-General of IRE­NA as well as representatives of the Africa Renewable Energy Ini­tiative (AREI), and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

During the two-hour virtu­al event led by H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for In­frastructure and Energy, African Union Commission, and IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera, participants agreed that the energy transition is critical to both the response to the crisis and to the post-pandemic recov­ery.

The meeting took place follow­ing an agreement between the two organisations to strengthen cooperation to combat the pan­demic and pursue Africa’s devel­opment goals.

AU Commissioner Amani Abou-Zeid remarked that: “The energy sector cannot sit back and only react; it has to join in the fight as well while at the same time positioning itself to play a pivotal role in the recovery after the crisis.

“Through this forum, we hope to share the actions taken by var­ious countries and organisations and the results they have had. This will provide lessons that will be instrumental in shaping the response and preparing for recovery.”

She disclosed the measures that the AU had taken including conducting wide consultations with regional and global stake­holders and developing an emer­gency, resilience and recovery action plan, which was adopted by the Bureau of African energy ministers on 12th May 2020.

IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera hailed the collaboration with the African Union, noting that their com­mitment to work together in the wake of the pandemic was starting to yield results with the high-level dialogue as a mile­stone.

La Camera said: “Accelerating the energy transformation can help Africa respond to COVID-19 while allowing the continent to meet its medium and long-term objectives of a decarbonised, just and prosperous society.

IRENA will continue to work closely with the African Union and partners to create pathways for accelerated renewable energy deployment in Africa, to bolster resilience in the face of the cur­rent pandemic while building a future of health, wealth and op­portunity for millions of people across the continent.”

Emphasising the role of re­newables, UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, said: “The impact of COVID-19 on African econo­mies is a major setback.

Rapid policy responses across the continent have helped to mitigate the health crisis but socio-economic impacts could erode development gains of re­cent years.

Expanding access to electric­ity through a bold expansion of ‘on-grid’ and ‘off-grid’ renewable energy is a major opportunity in the context of national stim­ulus and recovery programmes. They are economic, fast, shovel ready options to address energy poverty and accelerate Africa’s transition towards a clean ener­gy economy of the 21st century.”

IRENA further noted in a statement, that participants ob­served that the adverse impacts of the pandemic are stretching the African energy sector’s ca­pabilities thin. Unless urgent measures are taken to preserve the sector and prepare it for the post-pandemic recovery, the en­ergy situation could impede the continent’s ability to cope with the crisis and economic down­turn, ministers noted.

Speakers agreed that it is im­perative that the COVID-19 pan­demic does not dampen efforts to increase energy access and clean cooking solutions which remain a major challenge in Africa.


Source: Independent