African nations require support for energy transition not coercion
African countries should not be put under pressure by their developed counterparts to stop exploration and exploitation of fossil fuels for their development. Speaking at during a session on at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, during a session on Just and Equitable Energy Transition in Africa, Ruth Nakankabirwa Sentamu, Uganda’s minister for Energy and Mineral Development said African nations cannot be coerced to engage in the transition to clean energy process without access to funds. “We should not be suppressed in accessing money through exploitation of fossil fuels yet we need to invest in renewable energy technology and transmission so as make a transition to clean, affordable and equitable energy access. The position by the developed nations is a form of injustice and does ensure equity,” she observed. Unjust Move She said it is a pity that developed nations, grew their economies using fossils over 150 years ago and yet poor African nations on a path to industrial development are being asked to abandon such fuels yet they are endowed with them. She noted that already some European nations faced with challenges of funding transition to clean energy have resorted to ‘dirty fuels’ such as coal. “Reality is setting in. So if Western nations with their financial muscle can revert to fossil fuels, what do we make of economically weak African nations? She posed. Drawing an analogy between households using Liquefied Petrol Gas (LPG) and wood fuel, Sentamu noted that it is better LPG is made available and affordable to reduce pressure on forests and curb carbon dioxide emissions on the African continents. In ensuring a just and equitable transition to clean energy, Sentamu pointed out that African nation should be granted cheap loans to invest in renewable energy. “There is a potential for African nations to transition to clean energy because they have resources but they are handicapped by financial resources and technology. Funding institutions such as the World Bank should lower interest on loans provided to African nations for clean energy development,” she said. Regional Energy Integration In the East African region, she said 11 countries under the Eastern African Power Pool (EAPP), a regional institution that coordinates cross-border power trade and grid interconnection among nations of the Eastern Africa region is engaged in power integration. Noting energy in calls for sharing energy resources, Sentamu urged countries in the region with higher energy generation capacity to share with their neighbours as per the EAPP protocols. She EAPP which brings together Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda , Burundi, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda is already sharing electric energy generated from various sources among members. She however added that the region requires wide generation and distribution of energy to reduce deforestation and carbon emissions as result of the population heavily relying on wood fuel at household level. Sentamu said Africa has vast natural resources to exploit and what is required is exploiting them while ensuring policies and law that protect biodiversity are in place. She also added that African countries are keen on refining own minerals for value addition in order they ensure they earn better returns. “We will not allow trade in raw mineral minerals to reduce exploitation,” she added.