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A new report outlines the current state of renewable energy in Africa and warns about potential negative impacts on local communities

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Article
1 July 2020

New Report | Renewable Energy in Africa: an opportunity in a time of crisis

Author: 350Africa.org and WoMin

Renewable energy provides a key to Africa’s development. The climate benefits of using the sun and wind to produce electricity means energy for development without compounding the problem of climate change. Africa has an opportunity to largely leapfrog using fossil fuels for electricity production. This report outlines the current state of renewable energy in Africa as well as warning against potential pitfalls of renewable energy development that could have serious effects on the very communities that stand to be empowered. In a time of crisis, renewable energy presents a clear opportunity for the continent.

Commissioned by 350Africa.org and WoMin and conducted by University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre, the report gives a critical overview of renewable energy in Africa as well as a closer look at the state of renewable energy in 10 countries and key leverage points for activism and advocacy.

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Report
1 July 2020

Renewable energy in Africa - An opportunity in a time of crisis

Author: 350Africa.org and WoMin

Renewable energy can come with its own problems, particularly if it is implemented using the same profit-oriented logic that has guided the development of fossil fuels...This includes implementation of projects without the free, prior and informed consent of affected communities, and big industries and urban elites being given priority access to electricity produced. Where corporations lead the rollout of renewable energy projects, the profit imperative can result in human and environmental rights violations as costs are externalised to communities and nature. Some forms of renewable energy require the mining of rare earth and other minerals, which is often associated with land and resource grabs affecting marginalised and indigenous communities around the world...

350Africa.org and WoMin recognise the interconnected energy and climate crises and the impact and opportunity a just and fair energy transition to renewable energy presents for people across Africa, and women in particular...Our aim in embarking on this research is to provide a snapshot of the status and trends of renewable energy across ten African countries: Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda...

The research provides a baseline for further enquiry and offers 350Africa.org, WoMin and energy and climate justice activists in the countries researched a sense of the emerging outlook of renewable energy. Importantly, the research is intended to support country-level activists in identifying the gaps and pressure points for advocacy in their countries, and to provide examples from other African countries where renewable energy is more advanced. The case studies aim to help activists gain awareness about the costs and benefits of renewable energy projects being rolled out and to shape a view of more socially and environmentally just projects, which benefit communities and women in particular...

Across Africa, the uptake of renewable energy technologies in the form of geothermal, solar, ocean wave, wind and small hydro technologies up to 10 MW falls far short of that of fossil fuel electricity supply, specifically of coal, diesel and natural gas installations. Fossil fuel or hydroelectric power dominates electricity supply in all of the countries in this study, except for Kenya, where geothermal is the main source of electricity generation, followed by hydroelectricity, then oil...

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