Africa’s energy sector faces a huge challenge: how to bring reliable access to electricity to hundreds of millions of people, while containing carbon emissions.
Currently, the continent only produces 3% of global greenhouse emissions, although it’s home to one fifth of the world’s population. Nearly all of Africa’s 54 countries have signed the Paris Agreement on climate change, and many have committed to reach net zero by 2050. However, much of the population still lacks access to electricity.
Ahead of COP 27, CNN’s Eleni Giokos discussed this and other topics at Africa Energy Week in Cape Town, with Verner Ayukegba, Senior Vice President of the African Energy Chamber, which works with businesses in the continent and promotes energy growth.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How would you describe the current state of Africa’s energy portfolio to a global audience?
Ayukegba: With 600 million people without any kind of access to energy, and 900 million people — mostly women and children — without any access to clean cooking fuels, we need to focus on investing significantly into generating power for all of those people. At the African Energy Chamber, we have decided to champion making energy poverty history by 2030. We need to throw everything at it, because at the core of development there is reliable and affordable energy. If you don’t have that, there’s no point talking about access to education or healthcare.
How do you reconcile this developmental challenge with the climate change agenda?
Ayukegba: We shouldn’t have it as a binary situation in that sense. We need to make sure that we solve, of course, the climate issues, but also the power issues. You do not have to get people into a …