Securing Africa’s energy sector key to post-pandemic recovery

HIGH-LEVEL officials representing a range of African economies met under the theme of Securing Africa’s Energy Future in the Wake of Covid-19 at the second AUC-EIA Ministerial Forum.

The Forum was chaired by Dr Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Association, Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy; and Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources. Ministers representing almost three-quarters of the continent’s energy consumption and more than half of its population met with global leaders to consider how to revitalise the African energy sector and enable a sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery.

Energy leaders from global economies such as the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States also took part, along with senior figures from international organisations, companies and civil society.

Recognising the severe impact of the Covid-19 crises on African economies and the importance of the energy sector for continued economic development across the continent participants agreed on the urgent need to enhance actions which will ensure sustainable economic recovery and significantly scale up energy investment over the next three years.

Bolstering Africa’s energy infrastructure would lead to job creation

Discussions covered areas such as innovation and how to counter the negative effects of the pandemic on efforts to increase the number of people with access to electricity and clean cooking in Africa. This builds on the 2019 Forum which also placed a heavy emphasis on access to clean cooking.

Participants underscored that Africa is facing major challenges in obtaining financing and new investment required to meet immense structural transformation needs. Addressing infrastructure needs is essential to ensuring a resilient and dynamic energy sector that can power a successful economic recovery.

‘I’m delighted that so many ministers and other energy leaders from across Africa and around the world came together today to focus on how Africa can emerge from these crises with stronger momentum behind the development of its energy sector – notably through clean energy technologies like solar power,’ Birol said.

The Forum was also an opportunity to share views on the way the IEA Sustainable Recovery Plans energy sector roadmap for governments could best be applied to African contexts. The roadmap points out the global effect of government decisions to invest in infrastructure on employment would be significant.

Up to 9 million jobs could be created over the next three years. The IEA energy employment database shows that in 2019 the energy industry – including electricity, oil, gas, coal and biofuels – directly employed about 40 million people globally. The IEA estimated that 3 million of those jobs were lost or at risk because of the impact of the pandemic, with another 3 million jobs lost or under threat in related areas such as vehicles, buildings and industry.

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