UN chief calls for Africa to become renewable energy superpower

Africa has received only 2% of global investments in renewable energy over past two decades, UN says

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi. EPA
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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on world leaders to unite in bolstering Africa's renewable energy capabilities, as the continent deals with the devastating consequences of climate change.

At the first African climate summit in Nairobi, Mr Guterres said Africa had abundant renewable energy potential.

“Renewable energy could be the African miracle but we must make it happen. We must all work together for Africa to become a renewable energy superpower,” he said.

“Now is the time to bring together African countries with developed countries, financial institutions and technology companies to create a true African Renewable Energy Alliance.”

He said the continent's abundant mineral reserves made up 30 per cent of the global total required for renewable and low-carbon technology such as solar power, electric vehicles and battery storage.

Africa has 60 per cent of the world's most abundant solar resources, Mr Guterres said, yet it has received only 2 per cent of the worldwide investments in renewable energy during the past two decades.

“With adequate access to financial resources at a reasonable cost and technological support, renewables could dramatically boost economies, grow new industries, create jobs and drive development – including by reaching the over 600 million Africans living without access to power,” he said.

Mr Guterres spoke of the need to predict and track weather to prevent deaths and extensive financial losses in Africa.

He said that six out of every 10 Africans have no access to such systems, in a continent with a population of 1.3 billion.

Africa, according to the UN, accounts for only 4 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions but has been the continent most affected by global warming.

“We must see in green growth not just as a climate imperative but also a fountain of multibillion-dollar economic opportunities that Africa and the world is primed to capitalise,” said Kenyan President William Ruto, chairman of the committee of African governments on climate change.

The three-day Africa Climate Summit – co-organised by the Kenyan government and African Union – comes ahead of many diplomatic meetings before the November Cop28 climate summit in the UAE.

According to the Nairobi summit organisers, the goal is to deliver climate-positive growth and finance solutions for Africa and the world, and present a united front ahead of Cop28.

Updated: September 05, 2023, 2:58 PM