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Monica_55905 Jul 16

The Investment Case for SDG 7 After Covid-19

The Investment Case for SDG 7 After Covid-19 image
Damilola Ogunbiyi from SEforALL kicked off this panel by briefing the audience on the latest SDG7 tracking report which came out in late May, explaining that the world is not on track to achieve the goal of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030, and that the pandemic has thrown us even further off-course.
The latest data showed that 789 million people globally are still without access to electricity and 565 million of these people live in Africa. In addition, 900 million people don’t have access to clean cooking in Africa. The report has shown some progress but this has been driven by Asia. In Africa, the progress that has been made in electrification is barely keeping up with population growth and the number of people without electricity has barely changed since 2010. At the current trajectory, we will have well over 600 million people without electricity access by 2030 and the story on clean cooking is even bleaker if we don’t do something about this issue we will have a third of the global population without access.

The new tracking report advises that we have made progress with renewables by increasing the global share by 17% however the share of modern renewables has only increased by 10%.  In Africa, the share of modern renewables in the energy mix has only increased by 1.8%.  Africa’s progress has been stifled without access to sufficient, reliable and affordable energy. Electricity isn’t only needed to power households, it is needed for development, entrepreneurism and economic growth. The large utilities are struggling to serve those in remote areas, we need to help them innovate and integrate different technologies to combine traditional grid infrastructure with off-grid infrastructure. 

The Rockefeller Foundation has been working with a partner to survey the impacts of COVID-19 on communities and found a worrying situation – in some countries in Asia and Africa 35% of respondents reported a reduced level of food consumption over the last three to four months and communities are facing a huge financial strain at present. The panellists agreed that it is essential to get productive electricity to people living in rural Africa to improve their lives and livelihoods – to end poverty we need to end energy poverty. A critical part of reaching these aims is government as are the customers to be served, along with the financial system and the DFIs. They felt that the pandemic has presented a moment of opportunity if players can be creative and build new kinds of partnerships. At McKinsey & Company they talk about ‘disruption as usual’ and harnessing this level of energy created by the pandemic to start doing things differently, to change processes both upstream and downstream. All speakers agreed that taking advantage of this disruption to ‘recover better’ with real inclusion, justice and equity was a common aim. Energy is at the heart of reaching the SDG goals and although a huge amount of work needs to be done plus a very substantial amount of funding found, there is a sense of urgency to reach these by 2030.

Poll: The audience was asked whether Africa can achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 by 2030 which is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.  40% felt that this was possible whereas 60% did not think it was. 

Takeaways: 
  • We can no longer accept this incremental rate of progress and must renew our commitment to the integrated energy transition, prioritise energy efficiency, and support faster growth in renewables. We have the unique opportunity now to ‘recover better’, by investing in sustainable energy which can spark economic opportunities, increase GDP, create more green jobs, create healthier people and healthier environments. 
  • With the move from the MDGs to the SDGs, there has been an increased focus on the importance of energy access with goal seven specifically focussed on it as well as the recognition of the value of energy and how it contributes to many of the other goals such as healthcare or agriculture. Energy is key to poverty alleviation.
  • COVID-19 has highlighted the deep inequalities that exist on energy access progress and why this moment in Africa is particularly important. Using this disruption to implement innovative, substantial, and sustainable energy strategies is critical, using results-based financing and effectively targeting subsidies to reach SDG7.