Power, People, Planet: Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities

From the Executive Director

Caroline Kende Robb

How can Africa make electricity available to everyone while supporting low-carbon development? Can Africa become a global renewable superpower? And what level of ambition should we take to the climate talks in Paris in December?

We offer answers to these and other questions in the Africa Progress Panel’s 2015 report, Power, People, Planet: Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities. There are only seven days to go until the launch of the report at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town.

The report’s key messages have evolved out of a chaotic policy environment. Disentangling the links between climate, energy and finance – while interpreting the turbulent narrative of global politicking at the highest level – has been a challenge. Our report shines some light on these often obscure issues.

What is emerging is a powerful new African narrative. Tired of being left on the sidelines of international power brinkmanship, Africans across the continent are taking action. And it is easy to see why. The potential for Africa to emerge as a global renewable superpower is huge. Our report details that potential, but does not shirk from outlining the challenges, from corruption in energy utilities, to billions lost in illicit financial flows, to the contradiction of Africa’s global oil superpowers leaving a majority of their citizens literally in the dark.

The bottom line is that African governments have an opportunity seize the climate challenge to rethink their energy policies. This means pushing a ‘development first’ approach by adopting an appropriate energy mix while at the same time putting in place the foundations for a low-carbon transition. Africa does not have to choose between growth and low-carbon development.

merkel meeting

Last week, we were in Berlin with our panel members Kofi Annan, Olusegun Obasanjo, Bob Geldof, Strive Masiyiwa and Peter Eigen, to discuss the report and the upcoming G7 summit with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany, which currently holds the presidency of the G7, is a global leader on renewables while facing the challenge of moving away from coal and its high level of emissions. Chancellor Merkel, a scientist and former environment minister, understands well the global challenges and Africa’s opportunities.

Please join us as we count down to our report launch. Share our countdown and videos on your social media. The more voices the better, so we can spread the word about Africa’s unique opportunity to seize the global climate moment.

Caroline Kende-Robb served as Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel from September 2011 to January 2017.