Energy And Green Growth (EGREG)
Robert Alan Silverstein, Writer, Artist, Social Activist
The role of energy in socio-economic development cannot be overemphasized. Energy has long been identified as an essential element for humanity to develop and thrive and this was the reason why access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by2030 was captured as the goal number 7 of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which marked a new level of political recognition of energy. The targets of the SDG 7 include modern energy access for all, doubling of renewable energy as well as doubling energy efficiency. Energy is also at the heart of many of the other SDGs, including those related to poverty reduction and climate change. Thus, the provision of secure, affordable and modern energy for all citizens in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is central to poverty reduction and economic growth in the continent. However, access to modern forms of energy continues to elude many households in SSA and only about 45% of the population has access to electricity while 80% relies on traditional fuels for cooking and heating.Without electricity, households have inadequate lighting, communications and entertainment services and communities have limited access to essential services like healthcare and public lighting. Additionally, use of traditional biomass stoves contributes to millions of deaths in Africa and a recent Global Burden of Disease study estimates almost four million people die annually from household air pollution caused by traditional cooking fuels, while the time devoted by women and young children to obtaining traditional fuels restrict educational and economic opportunities.This situation can also be linked to the high level of poverty in the sub-region.
Accordingly, it is only important for SSA to continue to focus on its development objective and enhance access to clean energy infrastructure to its people while increasing per capita incomes to reduce poverty and enhancing overall welfare of its people. Thus, SSA’s economic development needs to progress at an even faster pace than ever before, and SSA’s requirements for energy and the resultant Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) emissions could therefore rise rapidly. The concern assumes even greater significance in the context of climate change given the low adaptive capacities of the SSA countries. Ensuring rapid economic development and enhancing access to modern energy services with limited resources without compromising environmental sustainability creates a dilemma for SSA planners and decision makers. In the light of these issues, the Energy & Development Program of the ASDPN seeks to ensure that all Africans have access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all which is in line with the goal number 7 of the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU).