It was announced on 20 April that the African Union Commission (AUC) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have agreed to work closely to advance renewable energy across the continent, to bolster Africa’s response to COVID-19.
The two organizations will focus on innovative solutions to drive the development of renewable energy, including decentralized systems, and to increase access to energy across the continent.
The cooperation aims to bolster Africa’s response to the pandemic by, inter alia, improving the ability of rural health centres and communities to deal with the health challenge using renewable energy to power critical services such as medical equipment and water pumping for improving hygiene.
Africa has vast renewable energy potential and could cover nearly 25 per cent of its energy needs through indigenous renewable energy by 2030. The deployment of renewables-based solutions is, therefore, central to achieving the aspirations of the AU Agenda 2063, as well as the UN Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development. The two organizations plan to collaborate to make this possible.
During a virtual discussion, H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the AUC and Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, agreed that a concerted and coordinated response is essential to address the energy-related response to COVID-19, and noted that renewable energy offers the most plausible and sustainable response, which will continue to uplift the quality of life for millions of Africans long after the pandemic.
Dr Abou-Zeid said “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that energy is critical for all spheres of life and is now proving to be a matter of survival. The African Union Commission has made major strides to advance energy development in Africa through various programmes and partnerships. It is now even more urgent to fast-track energy access efforts on the continent”.
She went on to say, “It is time to use Africa’s enormous renewable energy resources for the benefit of the African people in response to the coronavirus pandemic.” She called upon IRENA and the AU to work together to mobilize international support, including the private sector, to provide electricity to health facilities and associated services for fighting the pandemic in Africa, especially in the rural and peri-urban areas.
“It is critical that the vulnerable in society are specifically targeted in these efforts” she added, “with a focus on women and children”.