Launch of a German-backed project with a call for inclusiveness in the energy transition

Dr Mithika Mwenda

Deliberate actions must ensure an inclusive and people-centred shift from fossil fuels to renewables in Africa, climate activists grouped under the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said at a meeting in Nairobi, in Kenya.

Speaking at the launch of the Kenyan chapter of the “Ensuring a people-centred energy transition in Africa through civil society engagement” project, climate activists have warned of the danger of the big shift away from fossil fuels such as oil, and coal could still be controlled by the big conglomerate, leaving poor and vulnerable African communities behind.

“For the transition to be fair, vulnerable people cannot be kept away from the decision-making table. Civil society should and must be at the forefront to ensure candid and inclusive engagement of people on the ground,” said Dr Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director of PACJA.

He said that the problem of access to energy normally manifests itself in the daily life of women, especially rural women who have to walk for miles to collect firewood, which puts their lives in danger. .

According to Dr. Augustine Ndjamnshi, Chairman of PACJA’s Technical and Policy Committee, the choice for the Kenyan launch was informed by the fact that Kenya’s energy sector is on track to be one of the most progressive on the continent.

He said the project strengthens African CSOs to work towards a just transition and promote energy access through an inclusive agenda and to ensure a just transition process for all on the African continent.

To be implemented in five countries, including Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria, Morocco and Botswana, the GermanWatch-supported project will ensure an inclusive and people-centric renewable energy transition.

Currently, the sector has an installed electrical capacity of 2,732 MW, with KenGen contributing 61% (1,630 MW) and IPPs contributing the difference.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy poverty is now concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Currently, about 580 million people in Africa, or about 75% of the global total, do not have electricity. And 80% of the population (about 800 million people) does not have access to modern energy and depends on biomass products such as wood, charcoal and manure for cooking.

The IEA notes that this acute energy poverty negatively affects many environmental developments and outcomes; including health, household income, quality of life, access to modern services such as ICTs, as well as human capital development, productive land use and sustainable forest management.

Across Africa, lack of access to energy prevents women and children from leading more productive lives, widens inequalities and foments a wide range of social injustices. “This reduces the region’s chances of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063,” according to the African Sustainable Energy Access Coalition.

Access to clean, sustainable and modern energy services is necessary to meet basic human needs and for economic and social development across Africa. Increased access to energy “can unlock sustainable economic growth, improve human health and well-being, and enable women and children to lead more productive lives.

Beyond the direct economic and social benefits, access to clean energy will increase human security and build the resilience of states and communities to help limit the risk of large-scale migration on the African continent and accelerate the realization SDGs, Agenda 2063 goals and climate commitments. under the Paris Agreement.

Dan Marangu, director of renewable energy at the Ministry of Energy (MoE), said the government has adequate policies to guide the development of renewable energy from green sources.

He said the country has also embarked on a number of reforms aimed at opening up access to transmission and distribution systems, establishing a consolidated fund and creating the regulatory framework for net metering. , among other things for stakeholders and consumers to actively engage and respond to growing demand. request respectively.

However, Mithika said statistics increasingly show limited involvement of key stakeholders – especially non-state actors – in building energy systems that are people-friendly, environmentally friendly and climate-resilient – in particular by drawing conclusions from the sector report launched by the President in 20211.

He added that to bridge these gaps, civil society engagement is crucial to facilitate and promote renewable energy initiatives and a sustainable, people-driven energy transition.

Ndjamnshi said civil society participation has the potential to ensure buy-in, prevent outside interests from driving renewable energy development, and ensure that development is designed with a thorough understanding of the local context, social norms, values ​​and customs.

He noted that this will be achieved by creating a critical mass of non-state actors who will question renewable energy investments against a set of minimum criteria and ensure that initiatives prioritize small-scale, decentralized investments that meet the needs of the population.

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