“He did not need an electric vehicle, but he could have used a solar lamp.” Professor Kenneth Amaeshi recounts the story of the 13-year-old son of an acquaintance who recently passed away. The boy had been reading by candlelight when his bed caught fire after he fell asleep.
The ISSER conference hall in Accra falls silent. Amaeshi, Professor of Sustainable Governance at the EUI School of Transnational Governance, goes on to say that Africa’s energy transition is also about inclusion and equal access to clean energy for a healthy life.
All seats are taken for the event organised by the EUI in collaboration with the University of Ghana’s Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the African School of Regulation (ASR).
Throughout the day, experts from Africa and Europe zoom in on Africa’s energy transition. Taking stock of what is being done and identifying gaps. Looking at energy markets and technological innovation. And returning repeatedly to the point of finance: “No matter how idealistic we are, we need the resources to finance our way to our destination,” insists Professor Amaeshi. Learn more about Kenneth Amaeshi's vision for Africa’s sustainable energy transition.
A moral and economic imperative
During the opening session, Mohammed Amin Adam, Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance of Ghana, urges participants to “embrace the opportunities in front us to reshape the energy landscape”. For Amin Adam, the financing of sustainable and just energy transitions in Africa “is a moral and economic imperative.”
Accelerating the shift to sustainable energy is an urgent priority for African countries. Despite being home to one-sixth of the global population, Africa accounts for less than six percent of global energy consumption and only two percent of cumulative global emissions. A paltry two percent of all investments in renewable energy worldwide happens in Africa.
In his intervention, Pieter Van Gelder Schmidt, chargé d’affairs ad interim for the EU Delegation to Ghana, talks about Ghana’s economic transformation through projects focused on sustainability and green transition. “The European Union strongly supports the transition to a low carbon, more resource-efficient and sustainable economy; we have already launched several initiatives to finance and promote energy transition through public and private funding.”
Access to clean energy for all is top of mind throughout the day’s three main sessions. For Folake Soetan, Chief Executive Office of Nigeria’s Ikeja Electric Plc, “a lack of energy leads to poverty”. She tells the audience that the problem of distribution needs fixing: “We need to improve the infrastructure and for that funding is key.”
Bola Adigun, who runs West Africa Infrastructure and Capital Projects for Deloitte, points to the lack of concrete action: “In Africa we don’t lack policies…we lack the political will to implement them.” A member of the audience raises his hand: “How can we make these discussions relevant for rural populations?”, to which representatives of First Bank and United Bank of Africa respond by illustrating small-scale funding and support schemes.
One of the sessions focuses on ways to include the next generation in this path towards change. Chibeze Ezekiel of the Strategic Youth Network for Developments points to the urban-rural divide as a significant obstacle. Getting all people on board with sustainability issues requires tailor-made approaches as “we cannot approach people in the cities and in rural areas in the same way,” Ezekiel argues. Stephanie Schandorf and Esther Aba Ashun, alumni of the Young African Leaders programme at the EUI School of Transnational Governance, facilitate this session which brings concrete actions by young leaders in West Africa to the fore.
Tools to drive the green transition
The following day, 25 African professionals and one participant from Europe, gather at the premises of ACBF, the African Union’s specialised training agency, for an executive training facilitated by trainers of the EUI School of Transnational Governance and the African School of Regulation.
ACBF Programme Director Ian Mashingaidze welcomes participants with a passionate message for these next generation leaders: “We cannot transform this continent if we continue doing the things the way we have been doing them.” The answer cannot be found elsewhere, he continues. “You will find the power within…you can do better than my generation did.”
Training participants represent government administrations, international organisations, private companies, and civil society. Each with different roles and facing diverse challenges, but with a common passion in sustainability from policy to action.
Ignacio Perez-Arriaga and Elias Zigah of the new African School of Regulation (ASR) introduce participants to the current energy needs of Africa and the role of markets, technology and regulation in Africa’s transition. Watch Zigah's take on the volume of investments and types of regulations needed for a successful energy transition.
Their colleague Carol Ofafa presents a case study on sustainable mobility on the continent, which is rapidly developing, particularly in the area of two-wheel and three-wheel vehicles. Watch Ofafa discuss the challenges and opportunities of sustainable mobility in Africa. The ASR is temporarily hosted by the EUI Florence School of Regulation before a definitive establishment in an African country and the EUI has been instrumental in its creation.
Kenneth Amaeshi leads discussions on the strategies for a just and sustainable energy transition in Africa. Jan Cornillie and Christopher Hurst of the STG Climate team facilitate modules on climate finance. Discussions go from project bankability and EU investments to international carbon markets and the case study of the Lake Turkana wind farm. Watch Cornillie explain how climate finance in Africa can spark a green revolution.
During a coffee break, we meet Igazeuma Okoroba, a sustainability expert working for Dangote Cement in Nigeria. “It is really good to see that the EUI has studied climate change from the African context...I’m actually happy to see that the climate science recognises the gaps in Africa,” she says referring to the failure of high-income countries to fulfil a $100-billion-a-year commitment for climate action to low- and middle-income countries.
Course participants engage in lively discussions, contributing their perspectives on the issues at hand, asking questions, and pointing towards solutions.
Okoroba shares her enthusiasm about the course and the exchange with professionals from other countries. “Our perspectives of climate change are different. And we want to talk about building social networks…sharing ideas and innovations, spreading indigenous knowledge. This is very important for accelerating climate action,” she says.
After two days of rich discussions, participants travel home carrying valuable insights, strategies, and tools to drive sustainable energy projects and attract adequate financing for the region's green transition.
The conference and training in Accra, second in a series after 2022 meetings on migration in Kampala, are part of the EUI’s strategy to strengthen ties with African partners. The institute does so by working together with partners on global problems which call for global solutions, according to EUI President Professor Renaud Dehousse: “The European University Institute seeks to learn and advance collaboration with its partners on the African continent to support global action on clean energy and energy security through joint research and teaching opportunities.”
Find here all the interviews with our speakers #AccraDigest:
The big picture: Africa’s sustainable energy transition - with Kenneth Amaeshi
Sustainable mobility in Africa - with Carol Ofafa
The role of markets and technology in Africa’s energy transition- with Elias Zigah
How climate finance in Africa can spark a green revolution - with Jan Cornillie
Led by the EUI School of Transnational Governance, the institute partnered for the Accra event and training with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), and the new African School of Regulation (ASR). The European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships provided funding for the Accra meetings through the Young African Leaders Programme.
Learn more via www.eui.eu/ghana