renewable energy – and energy access – in Africa

WFC Councillor Tony Colman reports about his recent work for promoting renewable energy – and energy access – in Africa

Published on, by Tony Colman, not dated.

“Energy sufficiency” – those words in Africa would be seen as an oxymoron in a continent where over 85% of the population does not have access to energy through electricity. They depend on very low grade biomass burning, which has been used since the Stone Age. It is extremely important that the view from Hamburg or London of the need for a UNFCCC resolution in December 2009 to clean energy, energy efficiency and restraint in developed countries, takes full account of the 2 billion people worldwide who have been left behind …

… African power companies have not been privatised. It would be quite possible to move beyond the existing Light up Africa campaign of the World Bank that provides a lit light bulb. The desired outcome for every African citizen should be a minimum energy availability through electricity that every European or North American citizen or now Chinese or Brazilian citizen would demand or take for granted … 

… We criticise the use of fossil fuels in African countries, and expose our own hypocrisy. We must make sure that we have a clear path to 100% clean energy in our own countries, and recent work in Denmark and in Japan shows a way forward. But while Annex 1 countries are sorting out their problems, the WFC should ensure that the finance and will to deliver on 100% energy to the people of Africa is not lost. My background is as a landless peasant who grew up in the near slave conditions in the rural area of Norfolk in the 1940s. There was no electricity and conditions of work on the land were appalling. Think of the opportunities there would be for the people of Africa, if their agricultural processes could also be helped by the provision of cheap energy. That would enable the continent to finally come out of darkness, with no famine, and the ability to feed the North with their surplus. The World Future Council needs to think about what energy sufficiency is. (full text).

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