Right to develop Africa’s energy resources must be respected – Dep. Minister of Energy

The Deputy Minister of Energy, William Owuraku Aidoo, has urged the international community to acknowledge and respect Africa’s sovereign right to develop its energy resources autonomously.

This call comes amid the global momentum toward transitioning to cleaner energy sources, with the Deputy Minister emphasising that Africa’s unique path to energy self-reliance should remain unfettered by unwarranted external interferences.

The African continent, renowned for its vast diversity and evolving energy landscape, is grappling with rising energy demand to power its burgeoning economies.

It is estimated that about 600 million Africans are without access to electricity; and going by the current business-as-usual trajectory, the continent will not have achieved universal access to electricity by 2040.

Speaking at the ‘2023 Future of Energy Conference (FEC)’ organised by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) in Accra, the Deputy Minister noted that: “Energy is the heartbeat of every economy, and it is important that the African continent has enough of it to support economic and social development, and to enhance the welfare of its citizenry.”

Mr. Owuraku Aidoo therefore asked the global community for cooperation and mutual understanding to enable the continent harness its energy resources.

“We recognise that the electricity and transportation sectors are key areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” However, the deputy minister added, “Consequently, steps must be taken to transition these sectors toward a net zero emission future.

“To attain this, we must transition to the production and utilisation of clean energy, and the implementation of measures to mitigate any emissions that occur in the process. This will ensure we contribute our quota to the reduction of global GHG emissions and, more importantly, achieve carbonisation, energy access and security, and energy efficiency.”

Additionally, he noted, on the back of this, the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 calls on Africa to harness all its resources to ensure the provision of modern, efficient, reliable, cost-effective and renewable environmentally-friendly energy.

Similarly, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Renewable Energy Policy, he said, stipulates that member-countries shall increase the share of renewable energy including medium and large hydro to 35 percent by 2022, and 48 percent by 2030, in their electricity mix.

Among other things, he stressed that the continent needs a plan to strategically steer toward a low carbon economy and net zero energy sector while pursuing economic development.

Already, the country has developed a national energy transition framework that he said is in line with the global energy sector transition from fossil-based fuel to zero carbon by second-half of the century.

“We also believe that our energy resources in Africa can be exploited in a responsible and sustainable manner. Our oil and gas production can be done with technology to reduce carbon intensity; such as carbon capture technology, low carbon auctions and carbon offsetting,” he added.

The inaugural conference was held under the theme ‘Resource abundance, sustainable choices and innovation: shaping Africa’s energy landscape’.

The two-day conference takes the place of the annual Africa Oil Governance Summit (AOGS) programme by ACEP.

ACEP said this change aligns with a broader focus on energy sector governance, extending beyond the previous sole emphasis on oil and gas governance.

Executive Director-ACEP, Benjamin Boakye, speaking at the conference’s opening session, noted that the energy-poverty facing Africa goes beyond mere inconvenience.

“It is a matter of life and death. We have fellow Africans living in precarious situations due to their lack of electricity – the very foundation upon which advanced healthcare relies. This is an injustice that cannot be ignored by the world. It is a responsibility that falls upon the shoulders of those of us who call this continent home to lead the way.

“Among other things, the solution to this crisis cannot be addressed solely through words or promises. It demands sacrifices, effective governance and the judicious use of our countries’ resources to combat the scourge of inequality,” he added.

He further noted that the global climate crisis, an existential threat that affects us all, should be important for all – and so should the plight of millions of Africans who are on the brink of survival. It is our moral duty as responsible stakeholders to balance the provision of energy access with our commitment to environmental sustainability.”

To this end, he said: “We must find ways of providing energy to those who lack it, while simultaneously responding to the urgent call of climate action”.

He therefore called for collaboration to chart a clear pathway in the evolution of global energy systems, adding: “It is only through a candid dialogue and collaborative effort that we can pave the way for a brighter energy future in Africa”.