Saturday, September 18, 2021

“To Light Up Africa”

 Climate crises will hit Africa the hardest and extreme weather events caused by global warming are already affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people on the continent. The 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released 9 August 2021, explained that global warming has been more rapid in Africa than the rest of the world, despite its carbon emissions being almost negligible in comparison with all the other nations. But what energy sources Africa produces is based on extracting and burning fossil fuels.

Half of Africa’s population of 1.2 billion, do not have access to the most basic electricity supply while almost 900 million rely on traditional biomass and simple stoves for cooking such as charcoal or propane gas cylinders and where electricity may be available it is often unaffordable.

Friends of the Earth Africa have published an informative study called “A Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for Africa” that holds many lessons.

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Africa has enough renewable energy sources available for solving energy poverty, creating jobs and reducing emissions, according to the report. Africa has excellent solar resources and other renewable sources that can be easily harnessed to provide enough electricity for its population’s needs. African coastal areas have particularly good wind resources. There are geo-thermal sources located in the Rift Valley. These and other methods of energy can provide 300GW (equivalent to Africa’s energy poverty gap) of clean wind and solar renewable energy by 2030, raising to over 2000GW by 2050. 

The Friends of the Earth Africa make some insightful observations:

“System change means building alternatives to replace the current system, not simply trying to fix it. The way we manage, extract, use and distribute the Earth’s natural resources under the current dominant economic model has put us on a path towards ecological and social crises. We need system change – a new model of environmental, social, political, economic and gender justice – and we need to build the power of the peoples.”

“Everyone should have the right to energy. It should be a common good and not a commodity. The sun and the wind are shared resources that should not be exploited for corporate gain. Our energy system should not be run for profit but should exist to meet the needs of the peoples”

“Energy production and use should be owned and controlled by the people, for the people.”

Decisions about the production and use of energy need to

be democratic, participative, open and accountable and respect the rights of communities to define their energy needs and how these needs are met in accordance with their cultures and ways of life, as long as these choices do not have destructive impacts on other people and communities.”

The downside of the energy proposals is that it still all depends upon the goodwill of governments and their allocation of money to finance the new future energy scheme. Of course, it is possible for global corporations to end their tax evasion, for African governments in cooperation with the international community to impose and enforce new taxes and for the banks as well as the developed nations and their banks to cancel Africa’s debts. Local African governments could adopt the recommendations of the Friends of the Earth Africa study.

However, the primary concern that motivates businesses and governments is profit. Without the promise of a lucrative return, investment, no matter how socially necessary or worthy, does not happen.

Friends of the Earth Africa has shown what is feasible and practicable but it will take a socialist society to implement it.

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