Dec 092015


COP 21 Panel, 8 December 2015, African Pavilion. Presented by: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE). This panel discussed advancing low carbon development in West Africa and was moderated by Youba Sokona, Special Advisor on Sustainable Development, South Centre.

Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy, Worldwatch Institute, said there will be no sustainable economic growth or social development if Africa’s main energy source is fossil fuels. He said centralized fossil fuel based energy systems are not going to solve the problem of climate change or increase access to energy because they are too expensive, and he therefore recommended decentralized systems and renewable energy. He said Africa is not starting from scratch and that there have already been some “enormous advances” in technology and policy development.


Mahama Kappiah, Executive Director, ECREEE, outlined that of the 334 million people in the ECOWAS region only 42% have access to energy and that the energy used mostly comes from fossil fuels and biomass. He said the ECOWAS Energy Strategy for 2030 aims to provide 100% of the region’s population with access to clean cooking energy by 2030 and increase the share of renewable energy in the overall electricity mix to 35% by 2020. He noted another aim to improve the electrification rate from 34% to 88%, an increase equivalent to 60 million households gaining access to electricity between 2015 and 2030.

Sophie Gladima Siby, former Minister, Telecommunication, Postal Services and Information and Communication Technology, Senegal, highlighted the role of hydropower, which she said has been good both for agriculture and energy in her country. She stated that there is a lack of access to renewable energy in rural areas in Africa and that the Senegalese government is bringing support to rural areas to buy solar photovoltaic units.

Pradeep Monga, Director, Energy Branch, UNIDO, and Special Representative of the Director-General on Energy, UNIDO, said the energy agenda is fragmented and that coordination on the national level is a big challenge. He highlighted a lack of reliable data and a need for increased knowledge management and capacity building and said the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency is not being plucked. He said innovation and technology are the keys to decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation and that Africa deserves new technology not second or third generation technologies.

Ron Benioff, Director of Multilateral Programs, NREL, noted the importance of having the right policy signals in place like feed-in tariffs, guarantee payments and technology standards. He urged countries to take advantage of NREL’s Renewable Resource Data Centre that provides free advice on clean energy policies to countries in the region. He also urged building the local capacity of businesses and governments.

Edward Awafo, Head, AfLP, introduced the AfLP which is a partnership between governments and individuals and works as a knowledge hub to share experiences and best practices. He noted the importance of tapping into the emergent political awareness blossoming within African governments regarding climate change and energy.

Discussions ensued on inter alia: the tools needed to make sure public policies encompass energy and energy decentralization; the role of the private sector; and whether there is tension between low carbon energy and energy security.

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