Eugene N Nforngwa - Thematic Lead for Just Transition and Energy Access at the Pan-African Climate and Environmental Justice Alliance (PACJA) and Programmes Advisor at the Africa Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA) explains why renewable energy and a just recovery are vital in the Covid-19 response plans for Africa.
In a matter of months, COVID-19 has all but left the world in shreds. Over 250,000 people so far have died, and millions are sick. In April, the International Monitory Fund (IMF) signalled that 2020 could see the worst global economic meltdown since the Great Depression[i]. Sectors from subsistence agriculture to cutting edge technology-driven industries have all taken a serious beating.
Economists project disproportionate fallouts for Africa – compared to the rest of the world. With infection numbers rising sharply, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) estimates that COVID-19 will kill over 300,000 Africans by the time it is brought under control[ii]. In the meantime, the pandemic is driving 40 to 60 million people into extreme poverty and roughly 50 per cent of them will be in Africa[iii].
To catalyse the post-COVID-19 recovery planning process in Africa to explore opportunities available in renewable energy resources, the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA) will convene leading voices on the subject matter for an hour-and-half-long digital roundtable on 14 May 2020 at 10 am GMT.
The objectives of the Webinar will be to
- raise awareness and exchange perspectives among key African stakeholders on the knock-on effects of COVID-19 on the critical energy choices in the transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient and inclusive development pathways, and
- (ii) galvanise critical voices - governments, multilateral developments banks, and civil society – for an ambitious deployment of new renewable energy in the post-COVID-19 recovery process.
Disruptions in the global supply chain will push up the prices of food and other imports beyond the reach of the poor. Overall, Africa is projected to lose half its GDP. Extractive industries on which most African economies rely will suffer drastic declines. The current crash in oil prices due to plummeted demand could lead to trillions of dollars in stranded energy resources and assets for oil-dependent African economies.
Naturally, policy interests and political attention are slowly shifting from COVID-19 response to impact evaluation, economic stimulation, and recovery planning. In Africa, where prevalent poverty and weak infrastructure have left millions vulnerable, building resilience will be the centrepiece of every recovery plan. It is early to figure out exactly how much all of this will cost. However, UNECA has put forward the amount of $100 billion just for absorbing economic shocks. This is way more than the $12 billion offered by the World Bank in March 2020 to assist developing countries to deal with COVID-19.
In Africa, the stakes go beyond jumpstarting the economy or creating new jobs to shielding its hydrocarbon-resources-dependent economies from future economic and energy shocks. With supply peaking well above demand due to the economic slowdown orchestrated by COVID-19, oil-dependent African nations already find themselves with stranded resources, assets, and projects. The shift to renewable energy and a just and sustainable recovery are vital for Africa.
[i] See COVID-19: IMF anticipates sharply negative economic growth fallout since the Great Depression. Retrieved April 22, 2020 from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/covid-19-i…
[ii] See ECA Report: COVID-19 in Africa: Protecting Lives and Economies. Retrieved April 22, 2020 from https://www.un.org/africarenewal/news/coronavirus/eca-report-covid-19-a…
[iii] Daniel Gerszon Mahler, Christoph Laknerr, R. Andres Castaneda Aguilar & Haoyu Wu (2020). The impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on global poverty: Why Sub-Saharan Africa might be the region hardest hit. Retrieved April 22, 2020 from https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/impact-covid-19-coronavirus-global….