The UAE is leading a programme to finance renewable energy projects in Africa to help countries on the continent meet their green energy needs and hasten their economic development.
The "Etihad 7" programme will secure funding for green initiatives on the continent as it seeks to provide clean power to 100 million people by 2035, the UAE Media Office said in a tweet on Tuesday.
"Our two regions are inextricably linked, with enormous potential for further co-operation in the years to come," Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said in a statement on the ministry's website.
"One of the keys to unlocking that potential, supercharging Africa’s economies and allowing millions of people to contribute to building a prosperous continent is electricity, specifically, renewable energy."
The UAE's announcement for net zero emissions by 2050 made it the first country in the Mena region to come up with a concrete climate commitment plan.
The Gulf country hosts a large African diaspora and is keen on building new partnerships based on historical ties with African nations.
A major area of interest is sustainability with a focus on renewable energy, Sheikh Shakhboot told The National last October before a five-day visit to Africa.
"The UAE is committed to partnering with sub-Saharan African nations to achieve sustainable development and promote the welfare of the larger region by advancing together in the field of renewable energy," Sheikh Shakhboot said.
The Etihad 7 initiative aims to help African countries to meet their fast-growing energy needs without the corresponding surge in greenhouse gas emissions.
"The programme facilitates sustainable development by solving key challenges that hinder clean and affordable energy in emerging markets,” he said.
The UAE already has several agreements in place with partners in sub-Saharan Africa under the Etihad 7 initiative to help them to pursue their clean energy and economic aims.
“Etihad 7 is a truly collaborative programme, one that acknowledges and adapts to the needs and requirements of our partner nations," Sheikh Shakhboot said.
Large parts of Africa have been left out of the energy transition, according to the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).
Only 2 per cent of global investment in renewable energy in the last two decades was destined for Africa, with significant regional disparities, Irena said in a January 2022 report titled Renewable energy market analysis: Africa and its regions.
Less than 3 per cent of jobs in the global renewables sector are in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the electrification rate was static at 46 per cent in 2019, with 906 million people lacking access to clean cooking fuels and technology.
However, the continent has vast potential in wind, solar, hydroelectric and geothermal energy, with falling costs increasingly bringing renewables within reach, the report said.
Central and Southern Africa have abundant mineral resources essential to the production of electric batteries, wind turbines and other low-carbon technology.
"Despite the difficult shift away from carbon-intensive energy sources, the energy transition – when accompanied by an appropriate policy basket – holds huge promise for Africa," Irena said.
The energy transition under an Irena scenario, to cap the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, predicts a 6.4 per cent increase to gross domestic product by 2050 than that realised under current plans, it said.
Jobs created in the renewable energy transition will outweigh those lost by moving away from traditional energy, it said.
Every $1 million invested in renewables between 2020 and 2050 would create at least 26 job years while every $1m invested in energy efficiency would result in the creation of at least 22 job years annually, it said.
For these benefits to unfold, African countries need a comprehensive policy package that combines the pursuit of climate and environmental goals, economic development, job creation, social equity and social welfare, Irena said.
"Strong institutions, international co-operation [including South- South co-operation] and considerable co-ordination at the regional level" are also required, it said.