Africa accounts for less than 3% of the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions to date and has the lowest emissions per capita of any region.

Africa requires an annual investment of US$25 billion in the next decade to bring modern and affordable energy to all its people, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report released yesterday.

In its report titled “Africa Energy Outlook 2022”, IEA highlighted that the continent’s energy security has worsened by 4% with 25 million more people living without electricity today compared with 2019 (before the COVID-19 pandemic).

However, the new global energy economy that is emerging offers a more hopeful future for Africa, with huge potential for solar and other renewables to power its development – and new industrial opportunities in critical minerals and green hydrogen.

According to the report, today’s crippling spikes in energy prices underscore the urgency and the benefits for African countries of accelerating the scale-up of cheaper and cleaner sources of energy.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent food, energy, and other commodity prices soaring, increasing the strains on African economies already hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is affecting many parts of Africa’s energy systems, including reversing positive trends in improving access to modern energy.

At the same time, Africa is also already facing more severe effects from climate change than most other parts of the world, including massive droughts despite bearing the least responsibility for the problem. Africa accounts for less than 3% of the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions to date and has the lowest emissions per capita of any region.

Despite these challenges, the report finds that the global clean energy transition holds new promise for Africa’s economic and social development, with solar, other renewables, and emerging areas such as critical minerals and green hydrogen offering strong growth potential if managed well. 

“The immediate and absolute priority for Africa and the international community is to bring modern and affordable energy to all Africans – and our new report shows this can be achieved by the end of this decade through an annual investment of $25 billion, the same amount needed to build just one new LNG terminal a year,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director. 

“It is morally unacceptable that the ongoing injustice of energy poverty in Africa isn’t being resolved when it is so clearly well within our means to do so,” Dr. Birol added.

With demand for energy services in Africa set to grow rapidly, ensuring affordability is an urgent priority. Increased energy efficiency is essential for this, since it reduces fuel imports, eases strains on existing infrastructure, and keeps consumer bills affordable.

The report also cited the role of multilateral financial institutions and commitments from the international community as vital to boosting Africa’s energy sector.

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