In continuation of the ongoing Africa Industrialisation Week (AIW) 2020, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Thursday hosted a parallel session under the theme: “Towards a sustainable, equitable and resilient industrialization for Africa,” focusing on the over-arching efforts of the African Union on climate-friendly industrialization in Africa.
The session explored the multiple opportunities offered by sustainable energy solutions towards putting African industry on a green path as well as creating new employment and investment opportunities and stimulating entrepreneurial development on the continent.
Against the backdrop of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement, about two billion people worldwide still lack or have insufficient access to sustainable and climate-friendly energy. It was in this context that many energy and climate initiatives were introduced globally to guarantee access to clean energy. Nonetheless, Africa have made only slow progress in the use of renewable energy, despite being endowed with immense renewable energy resources.
Consequently, the AU has become committed towards the development of more clean energy solutions, as seen in its collaboration with initiatives such as the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), the program for Renewable Energy in African Island States (REAIS), the New Deal on Energy for Africa, being spearheaded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), as well as the Africa Bioenergy Policy Framework and Guidelines, amongst others.
In his keynote address, Mr Stephan Sicars, managing director of the Directorate of Environment and Energy at UNIDO, highlighted the opportunities circular economy could provide in terms of business and job opportunities in African industries. Amongst others, Mr Sicars said housing, infrastructure and nutrition contribute highly to global consumption with about 50% impact on climate, 90% impact on water stress as well as about 90% impact on biodiversity loss due to land use. “However, the other side of this is that production and consumption also create lots of value-added products and job opportunities,” he said.
Sicars described circular economy as an industrial economy whose key enablers include, innovation, stewardship and government. According to him, circular economy in the context of business practices will lead to “increased cycled contents into products, ensure use of energy products and other resources efficiently, maximization of resources efficiently in manufacturing industries, enablement of remanufacturing; and regeneration of biomass and recycling of products.”
Sicars cited Burkina Faso and South Africa as countries which had already ventured into remanufacturing business, as seen in remanufacturing of tyres in Burkina Faso and remanufacturing of car engine in the automotive industry in South Africa. “This has yielded more economical benefit with about 30-40% increase in profit as well as environmental benefits.”
In his concluding remarks, Sicars decried that plastic and textile manufacturing wastes were still not being exploited by African countries. “Recycling of these wastes can create lots of jobs in terms of collection and sorting of solid wastes, and also offers low skilled jobs. Many of this jobs will be and remain local; and since renewable energy and energy efficiency are integral parts of circular economy, more products will be part of circular economy,” he said.
He therefore reiterated UNIDO’s support for AU member countries looking into transitioning into circular economy.
In his remarks, Mr Atef Marzouk, head of Energy Division at the Department of Infrastructure and Energy of the AU Commission, said Covid-19 had indeed negatively affected all sectors of the economy with the energy industry being no exception, which he said, called for such a gathering to highlight innovative renewable energy solutions. He said it was time the African continent needed to adopt modern energy sources, even as about 600 million people still lacked access to power.
“We are committed to supporting renewable energy developments by providing policies and guidelines, supporting private sector and also collaboration with international agencies as seen in our energy development strategies and initiatives such as the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), the program for Renewable Energy in African Island States (REAIS), the New Deal on Energy for Africa spearheaded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative, as well as Africa Bioenergy Policy Framework and Guidelines, amongst others, all of which seek to increase energy access in Africa, improve livelihoods and to ensure environmental sustainability,” he added.
Panelists at the session discussed various renewable energy opportunities in Africa, challenges facing energy developers on the continent, as well as exploring solutions such as mini-grids as tools for rural industrialization, amongst others. Panelists at the session included Paddy Padmanathan, President and CEO of ACWA Power, Saudi Arabia, Ujunwa Ojemeni, an energy expert; Muhammed Uhuru Khadi of Consumers Choice Limited, Tanzania, amongst others.
The 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African …