Berlin - Germany: Experts at a panel discussion on off-grid systems at the 2018 Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD) have identified off-grid systems as the way out Africa’s rural electrification challenges.

This is coming on the heels of the report that about 40% of new connections required to achieve universal energy access will come from off-grid solutions with 35% being mini-grid solutions and 5% as standalone systems

The panel, which comprised Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for infrastructure, energy, ICT and tourism at the African Union Commission agreed that off-grid power generation can take place in Africa in various forms starting from the simplest systems consisting of a PV-panel and a battery to high installed power isolated grids.

“With off-grid systems, Africa stands a better chance of leapfrogging other regions of the world in Energiewende (Energy Transition),” Dr Abou-Zeid said.

Other panellists which included Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, Ethiopian water, irrigation and electricity minister, and Mamisoa Rakotoarimanana, executive secretary of the Rural Electrification Agency in Madagascar, Thomas Duveau, Molly Webb, and Eckard Wolf, however cautioned that for off-grid systems to succeed in Africa, it is essential to have a good regulatory framework that can anticipate and accommodate various implementation structures including business operation models that encourage private sector investment.

It is important, panellists say, for Africa to deploy innovative methods in addressing the persistent challenges in the region’s energy sector.

Acknowledging Africa’s lack of strong institutional capacity as a major drawback of the region’s aspirations for clean energy transition, the energy commissioner declared AU’s readiness to provide member states “with policy solutions including regulations and standards towards an affordable, faster and more beneficial transition across all sectors of our economies.”

“We are committed to a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy supply. Realizing this would require joint effort with all our partners in coordinating initiatives and sharing best practices to realise decisive and effective steps towards energy transition,” Dr Abou-Zeid added

Peter Altmeier, German energy minister at the dialogue said “It is possible to create prosperity, peace and security through Energiewende.” “Energy transition can provide more opportunities to this end for Africa and other regions of the world.

African non-state actors were not left out of the global energy meet as they underlined the need for the Berlin dialogue to recognise and apply the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) in their quest to liberate Africa from energy poverty.

The CBDR principle recognises historical differences in the contribution of developed and developing states to global environmental problems as well as differences in their respective economic and technical capacity to tackle these problems.

Augustine B Njamnshi, Coordinator, of the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA) called on the German government and other developed countries “to draw parallel between those who have the luxury and option of transitioning from fossil-based energy to clean energy and those who do not have access to any form of energy at all and are in urgent need of energy.”

“For Energiewende to succeed in Africa, developed countries must recognise their historic responsibility and prioritise Africa’s needs through innovative financing and technology,” Njamshi added.

This article was first published on the PAMACC website

MS Training Centre for Development Corporation in Eastern and Southern Africa (MS TCDC) together with partners met in Arusha, Tanzania from the 2 - 7 April 2018 to deliberate on the African agenda and to find continent - based solutions where challenges have been experienced. The conference theme was multifaceted conversations in Africa and discussions dwelt on leadership, the illicit financial flows, land issues, Inequality, Green Living and the role of Swahili language in East Africa regional integration. These conversations formed part of MS TCDC commemoration of 50th anniversary since its inception. At the end of the week, participants and the public would appreciate the ‘state of play’ in respect to these selected development and policy issues.

MS-TCDC in collaboration with Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance and EndaSolar, hosted Green Living Day as part of multifaceted conversation within the 6-days series of coordinated, but informal dialogues aimed at promoting reflection and action toward locally feasible solutions to local domestic concerns.

East Africa and Africa at large continues to face a double pronged challenge of expanding economic opportunities for all in the context of a growing global population and addressing environmental pressures that come with economic development. The challenge of environmental pressure is so crucial that when left unaddressed will undermines the opportunities that have been provided for by economic development. Green growth and green living is where these two challenges meet and it is about exploiting the opportunities to actualize these two. 

Speaking at the event, Mr. Ezra Mbogo, the Executive Director at MS TCDC in his welcoming remarks was categorical on the need to go back and embrace our root. “Mother Nature is crucial and important to our survival and the more we don’t interfere with it the more it will serve us. Let us embrace green living and ensure that our actions don’t deplete the environment further. It all starts with us.’’

On the Green living day, conversations revolved around evaluating key African Climate Change Response Initiatives specifically Gasification (Thermal Power) using Prosopis Juliflora in transitioning to Low-carbon Energy in Kenya, Solar Energy opportunities for Green Living and the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on mobilization and advocacy on Green Living in East Africa.

Green living is the practice of reducing demand on natural resources and reducing carbon footprint at various levels. It offers an opportunity for people to adopt actions for sustainable living that can help them to reduce their carbon footprint or environmental impact by altering their lifestyle. It is an opportunity for people to adopt actions for sustainable living that can help them to reduce their carbon footprint or environmental impact by altering their lifestyle. Simple measures like using public transportation more often, reducing energy consumption, becoming more eco-friendly can go a long way in reducing your environmental impact and making this planet a clean and safe place. Green living revolves around micro and macro choices on energy and water consumption, liquid and solid waste disposal and modes of transportation among others.


Why Green Living is should be central in our lives

Green growth means fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies. Green growth refers to development that improves human well-being and builds social equity while reducing environmental risks and scarcities. Green growth is an alternative to today's dominant economic model, which exacerbates inequalities, encourages waste, triggers resource scarcities, and generates widespread threats to the environment and human health.

Green growth is centered on the principles of sharing, circularity, collaboration, solidarity, resilience, opportunity, and interdependence. Green growth provides a practical and flexible approach for achieving concrete, measurable progress across its economic and environmental pillars, while taking full account of the social consequences of greening the growth dynamic of economies. The focus of green growth strategies is ensuring that natural assets can deliver their full economic potential on a sustainable basis. 

From the conversations, we all sat down and agreed that, Environmental protection is our responsibility thus we must adopt lifestyle habits that protect it and promote Green living. We also recognized the role non- state actors play to influence policies to ensure development sustainability and foster synergy and collaboration between all sectors of economy to promote Green energy development.

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