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Energy transition, a vector of opportunities in Africa

09.09.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Far from all the economic and financial considerations raised by these resources, the issues related to climate change and their impact on social development quickly prompted sustainable development stakeholders to question the sustainability of these resources as the population grows little more each day. To bring about the modernization of renewable energies and thus move to a green economy, several players then thought that the solution must come from permanent resources such as biomass, wind energy, solar energy and hydro-electric power.

Despite the fact that, at the moment, the exploitation of lucrative traditional resources does not encourage States to anticipate future needs in the green economy, it nevertheless recommends abandoning those inefficient and dangerous sources of energy used by more than one country. Moving to a green economy would then mean looking at an economy that improves everyone’s quality of life by significantly reducing environmental risks and resource scarcity. For example, it is necessary to favor the use of solar panels, recycling or optimizing the production of drinking water. Even if the energy transition will profoundly impact several sectors and participate in the abandonment of traditional energies, it should also be highlighted that it is not a constraint. Much more than that, it can be a vector of opportunities for African markets since many sectors such as training, job creation and sustainable development have become attractive.

An excellent training pole for Africans

With the brain drain that has always been observed on the African continent and the lack of training guided by an instinct for the future based on promising sectors such as the energy transition, several African countries have proposed to remedy this situation to offer the population specific training in the green economy professions. The explanation then made at this level is that these capabilities will eventually become assets for inclusive and sustainable growth on the continent. For example, Cape Verde has opened an industrial maintenance center for renewable energies (CERMI), with the main activity of training professionals in the fields of design, installation and maintenance of photovoltaic installations.

At Mohammed VI University in Morocco, a whole training program related to the sector was also set up. The initiative did not stop there, since the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), following the creation in 2006 of its label Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), focused on training managers of its member companies to the issue of “Climate Finance” in partnership with UNDP.

A special job creation opportunity

Job creation appears to be the most visible sector of the energy transition observed in the world and in Africa. Completely in line with this illustration, the 2030 sustainable development program provides a great added value from the ecological transition in terms of job creation on the continent. This position is confirmed by a report on the green economy and job creation in the world, published by the International Labor Organization, which estimates that 24 million jobs will be created by 2030 by transition energy. The figures put forward by the international agency for renewable energies even show that the sector is on the right track since it already employed in 2016 almost 10 million people in the world of which 62,000 in Africa. Although the percentages achieved on the African continent are still to be perfected, several complementary studies have shown that renewable energies create more jobs than technologies related to fossil fuels. One of them quickly concluded that for every dollar spent, renewable energy spending produces 70% more jobs than fossil fuels.

The energy transition on the African territory, besides the creation of specific and innovative jobs, will also play a major role in the development of products, services and more ecological infrastructures. This will translate into increased demand for labor in many sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, transportation, construction and public works. In the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), for example, the replacement of traditional lighting systems, mainly with candles, flashlights, kerosene lamps, Modern lighting such as solar energy, may be a good alternative, because it will create more than 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.

 An exclusive boon for sustainable development

The sector of sustainable development appears in many ways as the most obvious legacy that will have to be passed on to future generations. The green economy must then rhyme with ecology. Ecosystem protection must be at the center of the development goals of the continent’s countries. In transition, sustainable development is an essential aspect, as other objective aspects, such as reducing the harmful consequences of the use of inefficient cooking methods on the health of women and children, supply of electricity to productive industries in rural areas, modernization of agriculture or overall improvement of living conditions. Basically, we will have to observe a shift from fossil fuels to less polluting sources of energy.

With the commitment of green diplomacy policies following the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, many African states such as the Ivory Coast and Rwanda have launched healthy initiatives. First of all, in Côte d’Ivoire, the country launched in 2018 an original project for the construction of a power station fueled exclusively by waste from cocoa production. Rather than being simply burned as in the past, the 26 million tons of waste produced each year will now be used to power a biomass plant expected to enter service in 2023. In Rwanda, another innovation with Sustainable development led to the Kivuwatt project, a power plant that produces electricity from methane in Lake Kivu. This platform pumps water with a high concentration of methane and carbon dioxide to transform it into electricity. As a result, the country produces an affordable and environmentally friendly gas.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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