Currently two out of every three Africans are without access to modern and reliable energy services. This energy poverty is holding the continent back. It will be addressed one way or the other – champions of US coal companies are already using it as an ethical imperative to produce more coal and keep the global coal industry in business. But climate action and tackling African energy poverty can go hand in hand, each strengthening the case of the other. It is essential that Africa is helped to harness its vast renewable energy potential and ensure its rise from poverty is powered by solar, wind and other renewables. In the same way the continent has leapfrogged landline telephone infrastructure to modern cell phones, it needs to avoid locking in fossil fuel infrastructure and leapfrog to the agile, adaptable, safe and resilient renewable energies of the 21st century.
PSA strongly believes Africa needs to urgently transition to sustainable low-carbon energy pathways to avoid emissions growth while at the same time addressing other national priorities—such as access to energy and poverty alleviation. Thus, African countries are well positioned to drive a paradigm shift towards comprehensive, sustainable development-centered climate policies. To achieve this, it will be critical to support Africa’s rapid shift to low-carbon energy and strengthen African civil society organisations and progressive government initiatives.