COP24 panel on need to prioritise energy efficiency in Africa

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COP24 panel on need to prioritise energy efficiency in Africa

On Tuesday, the second day of the UN climate change conference (COP24) the African Development Bank held a session on energy efficiency in Africa in its Pavilion, where panellists reflected on the lessons of the many energy-efficiency initiatives that have emerged in Africa.

Funding, regulation and awareness

The first observation was that the African energy-efficiency market is in great need of funding and technical support, including in terms of institutional strengthening, development of dedicated policies and reinforcement of skills. These needs have been flagged for quality analysis and research to better define the market.

Several panellists highlighted the sector's financing needs. Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Climate and Green Growth Manager at the Bank, emphasised the multisectoral dimension of energy efficiency in the African context, noting that energy efficiency in Africa does not depend solely on funding. Upstream, there is a need to establish a stable, enabling environment for the development of energy efficiency. Thereafter arises the need to build the technical capacity of all relevant actors and stakeholders.  Then comes the needs of the market that requires greater regulation, communication and awareness raising to 'awaken' collective consciousness on the importance of energy efficiency in African countries, with a view to identify energy that is efficient, sustainable and less expensive. "If these three conditions are met, it will be easy to mobilise funding and project implementation will be more effective," he emphasised.

Risks and transition

Energy efficiency is also a key issue in the fight against climate change because of the need to implement a  transition that is as 'fair' and 'equitable' as possible, by balancing all options.

Green energy sector is certainly a promising market to explore.

It is however important to note that In Africa, 60% of the population has no access to electricity. Therefore, green energy sector is not yet a priority in Africa, due to the many other constraints and economic, human and social development priorities. lack of financial resources and political will are preponderant issues to contend with.

Energy-efficiency projects are so difficult to implement in Africa because of the sum of all these factors. This is a contingency that really is not conducive to the growth and stability of a market which remains promising – natural resources abound in Africa – be it energy efficiency or the definitive transition to renewables.

In Madagascar, for instance, the new energy policy established in 2015 has not yet been effectively implemented. 

However, in some countries such as Morocco and especially Tunisia, energy efficiency is a priority and they have created an enabling environment by defining clear policies and establishing appropriate institutional frameworks. Even so, as with any change, energy transition is something that is traded and that is why energy efficiency is viewed as a profitable commitment for the countries concerned, particularly the most industrialized and those that produce oil or are dependent on fossil fuels.

Despite its potential and opportunities, the energy-efficiency market involves risk, especially for the private sector. This point was made by Mark Radka, of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). "Donors see the energy-efficiency market as a risk sector and they do not want to inject money into it in too great a quantity or at too high a speed."

Financial institutions represented at the session called for more facilities and financial support from commercial banks in particular. The private sector certainly does have an important role to play in the promotion of energy efficiency.

In a study conducted in Africa by the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN), the operational arm of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism, which was invited to the panel, energy efficiency was top on the list of needs expressed (33.3%), ahead of the other priority areas of agriculture and forestry. 

Energy efficiency is a key sector, in a position to help the African continent to deal with the effects of climate change, because it makes it possible to implement both adaptation and mitigation mechanisms. These are needed by the African continent, home to many of the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

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