July 29, 2019

Climate change and Renewable Energy transition in Africa: Can Ghana learn from Kenya?

Frank Annor-Dompreh [the author] is the MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri

Climate change is a global topic that is being discussed in virtually all levels of academia. The phenomenon has been dissected thoroughly in several debates internationally and many of the concepts and aspects of climate change are now familiar to academics and international bodies. The challenge posed by climate change is largely anthropogenic as described by some scholars (Solomon et al. 2007; Parry et al. 2007).

They explain that more than 90% of the factors that influence climate change is human-induced and it is safe to propose that, good control over the activities of man could lead to a reduction in the effects of climate change.

In the European Commission’s (n.d) webpage report on climate change, the Commission informs that leading climate scientists believe carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions—which before the era of the industrial revolution, were in rather sustainable natural concentrations—have significantly increased owing to the burning of fossil fuels to operate industries and the mass cutting down of trees which deplete the storehouse for CO2 in the atmosphere.

These activities have over the years, been addressed through education and in search for restoration strategies of the climate-change cycle, the global community birthed a transition to clean renewable energy sources from the major practice of burning fossil fuels to produce energy. This has been a well-pursued movement with some countries performing better than others presumably because of a variety of factors surrounding their renewable energy transition. Though it may be easy to assume that the issue of funding of individual countries is an all-powerful determinant of success in renewable energy transition, it will be a rather limiting notion as other factors like policy regimes and even simple attitude and commitment held towards the campaign to address climate change may also prove to be relevant in our discussion.

Donor agencies operating in Kenya made solar panel technology of choice in rural locations where electricity was required for activities such as vaccine refrigeration, school lighting and water pumping. As at the time Kenya sought to connect its rural areas, that period was marked by a very intensive search for renewable technologies.

In response to Kenya’s donor needs, large international companies dealing with solar panels opened regional offices in Nairobi.
Again, a few Kenyan firms making solar panels also made their debut, specializing in large scale solar system and avoiding the household sector. This market development saw the prices per peak-watt decline from $40 in 1970 to less than $5 in 1998 and this trend has continued over the years.

Globally, the transition from the traditional fossil fuel sources of energy to renewable sources has become critical and important since many countries have come to acknowledge the threat climate change poses to the world. Hence, a number of countries across the globe have joined in the crusade with “Burgerenergie” (citizen’s energy) in Germany (Radtke, 2013); and “Energies partugées” (shared energies) in France (Poize & Riidinger, 2014).

The energy transition is a pathway toward a transformation of the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon by the second half of this century. At its heart is the need to reduce energy-related CO2 emissions to limit climate change. Decarbonisation of the energy sector requires urgent action on the global scale and while a global energy transition is underway, further action is needed to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. Renewable energy and energy efficiency measures can potentially achieve 90 per cent of the required carbon reductions.

Compared to the majority of fossil fuel-dependent industrial countries, the energy transition in Africa presents a distinct feature. With the exception of a few countries like South Africa, most African countries are not in a situation of pressure where they need to phase out of coal to meet their energy needs through alternative energy sources. Africa’s energy transition rather faces two important challenges; modernisation and expansion.

According to the Africa Energy Outlook (2014), 30% of global oil and gas discoveries made between 2010 and 2014 have been in Sub Sahara Africa. A number of countries that were previously net energy importers will become energy exporters due to increasing oil exports.

Differences between Ghana and Kenya 
In accordance with the perspective of this piece concerning possible differences in the factors surrounding the adoption of renewable energy, many African countries are experiencing relatively similar economic trajectories, though some with more promise than others.
It will not be wrong to place the financial capacity of a country to transition to renewable energy in the rear, while we focus on how the renewable energy transition is actually done by a country much like Ghana since funding cannot be the excuse to disrupt the sustainability of the environment.






Source: Myjoyonline

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