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Humans · Economy · Technology

Power for All - India and Africa united for decentralised renewables?

June 12th, 2017
in:Humans, Economy, Technology
by:Israel Bionyi
located in:India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, Mali, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Liberia, Guinea Bissau (Guinea-Bissau), Madagascar, Burkina Faso
tags:African Development Bank, Decentralized Renewables, Power for All

Power for All is an international advocacy group campaigning for access to electricity, whose mission is to achieve universal and cost-effective sustainable energy access in 10 years.

In March 2017, Power for All published the Decentralized Renewables: From Promise to Progress report, outlining ambitious policies nations can take to achieve universal access to energy by 2030 via decentralised renewables. In 2016, the group campaigned for the removal of tariffs on assured renewable energy technologies imported into Nigeria, which it believes could save the country over $1.4 billion each year.

Power for All campaigns at global and national levels and is taking its power of negotiations to the 2017 African Development Bank Annual Meetings (AfDB AM), taking place from May 22-26 in Ahmedabad, India. fairplanet spoke to William Brent, Director, Communications. media & Content with Power for All.

fairplanet: Africa is the highest hit by climate change. Several countries including Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Mali are suffering huge climate effects. Most of these nations are clearing away their biomass because of lack of energy. Renewable energy is driving changes sweeping Africa considered as new hope to help fight climate change. What linkages can you draw between Indian investments that can enhance the spirit of climate mitigation in Africa?

William Brent: India has one of the most aggressive commitments under the Paris climate accord to reduce its emissions. At the same time, AfDB has put forward its ambitious New Deal for Energy. Both are showing strong, clear international leadership in promoting renewable energy (the cost of utility-scale solar in India is now cheaper than coal). India has also championed the India-based International Solar Alliance (ISA), with the goal of mobilising a $1 trillion for ISA countries (which currently include several from Africa - Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Guinea, Mali; Niger; Tanzania; Ethiopia; Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Guinea-Bissau, and Liberia. Private money often follows public money, and climate is increasingly being seen by the financial community as a risk that must be addressed - in other words, it is a business consideration when deploying capital. Climate resilience is a key benefit of decentralised renewable energy such as solar irrigation and mini-grid solutions. 

PV magazine, an international energy platform says ISA has set aside a USD $2 billion line of credit for the deployment of 100,000 solar irrigation pumps in Africa. How confident are you that this will help about 645 million Africans access electricity?

The ISA is a new international effort, so it is still too early to tell the impact it can have. However, India, which hosts the ISA, has become a global leader in renewable energy, with a 175 Gigawatt (GW) target of new generation by 2022, 100 GW of which is solar. India is also very focused on addressing how to get power to its 270 million people without power, who like the 645 million in Africa without power, mostly live in rural, remote areas. There is a lot of business and technology innovation happening around solar irrigation in both India and Africa, and there are major opportunities for cross learning and co-development.

Based on data provided by governments of some African countries, nearly 80 Indian companies have invested about US$2.5 billion in Africa’s agricultural sector. How do you see investment in this sector growing from here? Are there strong commitments that Africa can count on?

From an energy access and solar irrigation perspective, India’s government, through the International Solar Alliance, has committed to support development of the market for water pumps for agriculture in Africa, and has set aside a line of credit for Indian companies to do so. India has ambitious goals domestically to replace 20 million installed diesel and power irrigation pumps with solar, which Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated would require a total capital expenditure of $60 billion. Imagine if India and Africa work together to do the same thing in Africa? That’s millions of solar water pumps, impacting tens of millions of rural poor who count on agriculture for their livelihoods. This is an immediate and tangible opportunity.

During the end of the 2015 India-Africa Forum Summit, Indian Prime Minister Modi made some strong commitments supporting Africa’s development agenda. Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank also said: “Africa and India must shape their futures together”. What can Africans expect from the Annual Meetings that goes in that direction?

This is the first time the AfDB meeting has been hosted in India. It is a clear symbol that the two regions are serious about partnership and that such a partnership will grow.

The African Development Bank said Africa need science, mathematics, technology and engineering to foster its development. Through the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, President Adesina is giving young people a huge responsibility to lead development in their respective countries. What extra power can India troupe to enable Africa to gain the necessary technologies and the skills required for its development?

In 2015, Skills India launched a national campaign to train 400 million people by 2022. Schneider Electric recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India to open 500 centres to train electricians that can help achieve the country’s ambitious renewable energy goals. These types of public-private partnerships are a good model to deploy in Africa as well. At the same time, grassroots efforts like India-based Barefoot College are already helping women entrepreneurs tap into the opportunity from decentralised renewable energy to improve lives, for themselves and their communities.

Article written by:
Israel Bionyi
Author
Current Map: Our coverage
In March 2017, Power for All published the Decentralized Renewables: From Promise to Progress report, outlining ambitious policies nations can take to achieve universal access to energy by 2030.
Power for All campaigns at global and national levels and is taking its power of negotiations to the 2017 African Development Bank Annual Meetings.
India has one of the most aggressive commitments under the Paris climate accord to reduce its emissions.

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