Africa Adopts Common Position on Just Energy Transition

ADDIS ABABA – African Union on Friday said its member States have adopted an African Common Position on Energy Access and Just Transition that sets out a pathway to accelerate universal energy access and transition for the continent without compromising its development imperatives.

The common positon, adopted by the AU Executive Council last week, “stipulates that Africa will continue to deploy all forms of its abundant energy resources including renewable and non-renewable energy to address energy demand,” said the Union. 

The adoption of the position comes amid claims that environmental activists, mostly from already developed nations, are pressuring African countries to abandon the oil and gas energy resources in favor of renewable energy. 

“The simple, staggering fact that more than half of Sub-Saharan Africans lack access to electricity means that our priority must continue to be ending energy poverty,” said African Energy Chamber chairman NJ Ayuk.

A 2022 UN report shows at least 568 million people in Africa currently live without access to electricity. More than 900 million Africans also lack access to clean cooking facilities. 

The common position seeks natural gas, green and low carbon hydrogen and nuclear energy to play a crucial role in expanding modern energy access in the short to medium term while enhancing the uptake of renewables in the long term for low carbon and climate-resilient trajectory.

‘A step forward’

The AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Amani Abou-Zeid called the adoption of the Common Position ‘a major step forward’.  

“This is an important and major step forward towards ensuring and confirming Africa’s right for a differentiated path towards the goal of universal access to energy, ensuring energy security for our Continent and strengthening its resilience, while at the same time acting responsibly towards our planet by improving the energy mix.” said Dr Abou-Zeid.

The Commissioner also stressed that it is a timely measure to push for favorable outcomes and tangible investments in energy and infrastructure at COP 27 set to take place in November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

According to AU, the Position encourages striking a balance between ensuring access to electricity to catalyze socio-economic growth and smoothly transitioning towards renewable energy.

“I urge stakeholders and potential public and private investors to accept and back Africa’s Common Position for Energy Access and Just Transition,” the commissioner said, urging them to support the AU initiatives “to fast-track African’s right to universal access to affordable and reliable electricity.” 

The African Single Energy Market (AfSEM), the Continental Power System Masterplan (CMP), and the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) are the major AU initiatives on energy.  

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