According to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of Nigeria, tackling energy poverty through green technology and climate-positive growth is the key to achieving middle-income status in African countries. In his recent special public lecture titled “Energy Transition in Africa,” delivered at the University of Pennsylvania, Osinbajo highlighted the immense potential of Africa’s endowments, renewable energy, natural resources, and young workforce to achieve climate-positive economic growth, lead the global energy transition, and attain the global net-zero emissions targets.
The VP proposed three specific pathways for African countries to achieve this goal. Firstly, Africa can adopt low-emissions consumption and production, leveraging green technologies and practices instead of carbon-intensive methods to provide energy, goods, and services. Secondly, Africa can ramp up its potential to remove carbon at scale through a combination of planned land use, ecosystem management, and investment in emerging engineered removal technologies. Thirdly, Africa can become a highly competitive green manufacturing and energy hub, accelerating the greening of global industry by exploiting its abundant reserves of renewable energy and raw materials.
Osinbajo, however, noted that the developed world needs to change its perception of Africa and view it not only as a victim but also as a solution to climate change and attainment of the global net-zero targets by 2050-2060. He emphasized that Africa’s own growth and development should be accommodated in global energy transition conversations, and a paradigm shift towards climate-positive growth should be adopted, leveraging Africa’s unique potential.
Osinbajo also addressed the issue of energy poverty, stating that it could only be resolved by significant investment in renewable energy, which could happen only if there was an energy-intensive anchor demand that made the investment in additional renewable energy bankable. Therefore, both renewable energy generation capacity and industrial deployment should be developed concurrently. He noted that Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan aimed to develop 250 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2060, with decarbonization strategies in the areas of power, oil and gas transportation, among others.
In conclusion, Osinbajo emphasized that Africa’s potential in the realization of the global energy transition targets was immense, and it could lead the world towards a greener future by embracing green technology and climate-positive growth. Africa’s unique potential should be accommodated in global energy transition conversations, and a paradigm shift towards climate-positive growth should be adopted.