Solar for sunny Africa
The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) aims at enabling the installation of large-scale renewable energy capacity on the African continent by 2020. The African-led plan has just received a big boost with over $10 billion worth of financial backing from various members of the international community at COP21 in Paris. Most of the $10 billion came from the European Union, Sweden and the G7 countries. In particular, Germany will contribute $3.25 billion, France $2.2 billion, Sweden $500 million and Canada $110 million. This will help provide clean power to millions across the continent.
This clean electricity is sorely needed: Approximately 600 million people have no access to electricity in Africa, with the figure expected to rise to 700 million by 2030 without further action, according to a 2015 UNEP report. As a result, many rely on wood or other biomass to cook and heat their homes, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths each year from indoor air pollution.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “Africa’s renewable energy revolution will ensure access to clean, reliable and efficient energy, while ensuring we do not add to the greenhouse gas emissions we are gathered here in Paris to reduce. The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative aims to do just that. Such leadership from Africa, and the financial backing from the international community announced today, provides fresh hope that we can tackle the twin challenges of sustainable development and climate change.”
African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina said, “Africa is tired of being in the dark. The Lack of electricity has put the brakes on Africa’s industrialization. Through the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, we can sustain fast economic growth in Africa and on a low carbon development pathway.”