Joint green efforts by Africa, China key to growth

Source:chinadaily 2024-06-05

Africa's vast potential for renewable energy, combined with China's technological expertise and investment capacity, presents a unique opportunity for mutual economic growth, experts say.

This collaboration can drive sustainable development, alleviate energy poverty and stimulate economic activities across the African continent, they said.

Speaking during the African Development Bank Group's annual meeting in Kenya's capital Nairobi, which concluded on Friday, Kevin Kariuki, the bank's vice-president for power, energy, climate and green growth, said the continent needs to tap into renewable energy for industrial growth.

"I believe that by investing in Africa's renewable energy infrastructure, China can help build large-scale solar farms, wind farms and hydroelectric plants. These investments can provide reliable and affordable energy, which is crucial for economic growth."

The continent has not fully tapped into its renewable energy sector, according to the State of Africa's Infrastructure Report 2024 published last month by the Africa Finance Corporation.

This has continued to affect its economic growth rate, especially in the manufacturing sector, the report said.

"Our inability to tap into the renewable energy sector continues to slow down our growth rate," African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina said.

"Today our continent harnesses only a fraction of its renewable energy resources, with 1 percent of its solar potential, 5 percent of gas-to-power, 6 percent of geothermal, 7 percent of wind and 11 percent of hydropower. Hence, we cannot compete with other regions."

Africa should forge renewable collaboration with China to unlock its energy potential, Adesina said.

Expanded investment

In recent years, China has expanded investment in renewable energy in Africa. In Garissa County, Kenya, a Chinese-built solar power plant has contributed to Kenya's energy grid, supporting local industries and communities, while helping reduce more than 43,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, Kenya's Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation said.

"One of the ways is to share expertise and provide training," Adesina said. "China can help build local capacities to manage and sustain renewable energy projects. This can be done through joint ventures, scholarships for African students in Chinese universities and the establishment of research and development centers in Africa."

In addition to benefiting from Chinese technology, delegates at the meeting also called on African countries to develop renewable energy regulatory frameworks that foster investments and partnerships.

"China can assist by sharing its experiences in creating effective renewable energy policies and regulatory frameworks," Kariuki said. "Collaborative efforts can also focus on developing regional energy markets and grid interconnections, enabling countries to share renewable energy resources more efficiently."

Paul Muthaura, CEO of the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative, identified financing as a major obstacle hindering renewable energy projects in Africa, highlighting China's potential to offer low-interest loans, thus bolstering support for such initiatives across the continent.

Although African countries in general lag behind in renewable energy development, countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are implementing ambitious renewable energy development policies.

"It's no doubt that renewable energy has the potential to provide electricity to the 600 million Africans currently deprived of it, create jobs and stimulate industrial revolution in the continent," Muthaura said.

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.


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