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Monica_55905 Jul 14

Can an Effective Response to COVID–19 and Acceleration of Clean Energy Development Go Hand in Hand for Africa?

Can an Effective Response to COVID–19 and Acceleration of Clean Energy Development Go Hand in Hand for Africa? image
In the famous words of Sir Winston Churchill, Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste.  While EU leaders are backing a COVID-19 recovery strategy that integrates energy transition, our panelists looked to determine if an effective response to COVID-19 can promote the acceleration of clean energy Development in an African context.
After an enthusiastic introduction from moderator Tony Tiyou, CEO and Founder, Renewables in Africa, our first panelist Maximillian Jarret, Africa Programme Manager, IEA wasted no time in sharing his thoughts, answering in no uncertain terms, ‘Yes, not just can, but should, and must’. With the view that clean energy should be put at the heart of economic stimulus packages in response to COVID-19. This categorical yes was echoed by our other panelists, Lisa Pinsley, Director, Energy, Actis, Björn Ullbro, Vice President, Africa & Europe, Wärtsilä Energy Business, and Gulnara Abdullina, General Manager, Middle East & Africa, Jinko Solar.

As seen with the European Investment Bank and other organisations, there is certainly a commitment to clean energy across DFI’s Multi-laterals and the private sector, our panel recognised the African Governments will have an important role in facilitating the acceleration of Clean Energy Developments. In particular, the need for Governments to clean up regulatory hurdles, in relation to both utility scale and distributed energy projects. Unleashing the private sector into this sphere, taking projects away from public sector balance sheets, could have a great impact in the acceleration of clean energy.  However, it was also recognised that Governments are very much concerned with damage prevention around COVID-19, and that the pandemic is not over yet, it will take time to truly move through into response. 
All within the energy space have noted the falling oil and gas prices, and have considered the impact this will have on the uptake of clean energy, and whilst this makes renewables an increasingly feasible option, the fall in oil prices can also have a greater economic effect on African countries, inhibiting the ability to then invest into renewables. That being said it was concluded that this is undoubtedly an opportunity.  
As an enlightening conversation came to a close our panellists were asked how confident they were that the African renewable energy sector will rebound in the next 18 months to 24 months, from 1 to 10. With a total score of 32 out of 40, our panel is certain that the long term future in Africa is green. 

Poll Results: 
Can an Effective Response to COVID–19 and Acceleration of Clean Energy Development Go Hand in Hand for Africa?
71% Yes 
14% No 
14% Unsure

Takeaways
  • There is undoubtedly an opportunity for clean energy to be part of Africa’s response to COVID-19, whether as part of stimulus packages, clean energy for healthcare, or as a result of effective economic recovery better enabling the uptake of renewables. This is not a short-term opportunity but remains medium to long term.
  • Africa needs to have the space to adopt a judicious mix of energy resources, as economic development is essential as a pre-requisite to the acceleration of renewables. Whilst simultaneously keeping this as clean and as modern as possible. 
  • In the short term, disruption of a global scale will be a challenge, with global imports of renewable technology hindered for example. This will not be a dramatic advancement but a measured growth of renewables in Africa.