Jan 31, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Time for Africa to act with resolve to stem threats of climate change

As the world prepares for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in 2022, we are aware of the multifaceted crises facing the planet that require urgent, major action. Nowhere in the world is this more evident than in Africa.

On this continent, and in Kenya in particular, the climate crisis is manifesting itself in a myriad of interconnected ways. We are witnessing rainfall failures that threaten our food security and accentuate our energy weakness. This is superimposed on an economy recovering from the ravages of COVID-19 and the impact of the historic development deficits of many countries in the Global South.

Significantly, there is a growing realization that the world must act quickly, decisively and irreversibly in quantity to avert harm to himself and mankind. This reality was spoken out loud in Glasgow at COP26, sparking a global discourse on the energy transition. Since then, a series of energy security and energy transition conferences have been held in major world capitals, including the recently concluded Sustainable Energy Conference convened by the Kenya Ministry of Energy and the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen). Unfortunately, these discussions, taking place in the midst of a raging war between Ukraine and Russia, are taking on a certain accent that does not fully reflect African reality.

According to the International Energy Agency, more than 800 million are African , 75% of them in sub-Saharan Africa, have no access to electricity. In some countries this means less than 5% connectivity. Furthermore, few countries have developed their renewable resources.

Fortunately, Kenya has made great strides in recent years. The government has made significant strides in transitioning to renewable energy sources for power generation over the past decade. As a leader in renewable energy, we now stand at more than 75% of green installed capacity, with daily green shipments at 92%. Our country’s goal is to use 100% renewable energy by 2030. Despite this progress, we must not lose sight of how far our commitment must go to meet the needs of all Kenyans. It is this realization that guides our efforts to maintain this leadership position and teach lessons to other countries in this regard.

As a country, we have made a conscious choice to diversify our power sources, beginning with sustainable investment in geothermal energy about 40 years. This complements our hydroelectric power and recently increasing wind power by providing a baseload of clean, reliable, and dependable power sources that will propel our nation into the next phase of industrialization and global competitiveness.

Our goal remains universal access to electricity for all Kenyans. To achieve this goal, we have expanded access from under 30% to 75% in just under 10 years, underscoring our commitment to investing in energy solutions that benefit all Kenyans in all parts of the country. Notably, the number of households connected to electricity has increased from 2.3 million in 2013 to 8.6 million in 2022. The Government remains committed to ensuring that all homes and businesses have access to affordable electricity.

The Completion of KenGen The 86 MW Olkaria I AU 6 geothermal plant adds to our already impressive power generation footprint. Geothermal energy is a major component in Kenya’s progress towards 100% renewable energy use by 2030 – a goal that will be achieved if we continue on this development path. Geothermal energy is a major win for Kenya in terms of climate protection as it is a renewable energy source. It also aligns with our country’s Least Cost Power Development Plan (LCPDP), which focuses on a sustainable supply of renewable energy to support the government’s Big Four agenda.

Given fact that the world is facing an unprecedented climate crisis, we must act boldly now if we are to face it successfully. We cannot afford to delay further because time is running out.

The scope of the planned measures is enormous and time is of the essence. Therefore, it is crucial that the African voice finds space, not only in Africa but across the world, to articulate the challenges we perceive. The transition is different for every country and these specificities must guide discussions, policy decisions and programmes. As a commitment to our leadership in this regard, the Department of Energy will host the Sustainable Energy Conference as the annual signature event to review the state of play for Kenya and Africa in a global context.

Monica Juma is Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary at the Department of Energy. Email: [emailprotected]

Twitter: @AmbMonicaJuma