WePlanet Africa launches campaign to power up the continent


By Timothy Machi

Africa is a continent on the horn of dilemma. While it generates the least amount of greenhouse gases – at just 3.8 per cent against 23 per cent in China – it is the most vulnerable continent to the effects of climate change. According to the International Rescue Committee, out of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate disaster, seven are in Africa.

Even then, much of Africa’s own contribution to greenhouse gas emissions stems from deforestation, which is happening 4 times faster than the global rate, resulting in an average loss of an estimated 40,000 square kilometres per year. Since 1990, over 200,000 square kilometres of forest habitats in Africa have been lost. That is roughly four soccer pitches worth of forests per day for 20 years.

Wood fuel

Besides agriculture and human settlement – both, factors of a rapidly growing population – charcoal burning and biomass fuels lie at the heart deforestation in Africa. According to the African Development Bank in their New Deal on Energy in Africa – a transformative plan to power and light up the continent by 2025, up to  640 million Africans have no access to energy and therefore use charcoal or wood fuel for cooking, heating, and other domestic purposes.

Africa’s energy challenges are immense. The Brookings Institution estimates that power shortages stunt the region’s growth by 2-4 per cent a year, holding back efforts to create jobs and reduce poverty.

Generation gap

In addition, despite a decade of growth, the power generation gap between Africa and other regions is widening. In 2022, the continent’s total installed electricity capacity was 245 GW with 1.4 billion people. At 333 million people by the end of 2022, US had 1,160,169 MW—or about 1.16 billion kW.

With abundant solar, wind, geothermal resources, and rich uranium deposits, the continent has the potential to power itself sustainably and reduce its carbon footprint. However, inadequate infrastructure, limited investment, and outdated policies have hindered the growth of the renewable energy sector in many African countries, leaving close to half the population without access to reliable electricity and jeopardizing the future of the continent’s forests.

Catalyze investment

But all this is set to change following the launch of ‘Switch on Africa Campaign’ in Kampala by WePlanet Africa – a grassroots organisation dedicated to tackling climate change.

According to WePlanet Africa Director Patricia Nanteza, the “Switch on Africa” campaign is aimed at addressing these challenges by catalyzing investment in renewable energy, improving access to the grid, cutting the cost of power, and protecting African forests through sustainable energy practices.

Light bulb

“Our vision is to ensure Africans have access to more than just a light bulb and to create a carbon-neutral Africa that is powered by renewable energy and protects its natural resources,” said Nanteza.

“The Switch on Africa Campaign is a call to action for governments, businesses, and investors to help boost household energy consumption, accelerate the transition to clean energy, promote sustainable development, and protect the environment,” she said.

Cost of power

Among other objectives, the “Switch on Africa” Campaign seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of renewable energy, mobilise investment for large-scale projects, push for policies to lower cost of power, and support local communities in adopting sustainable energy practices.

Through this campaign, WePlanet Africa seeks to work with private investors, multilateral institutions, and governments to provide financing, technical assistance, and policy support for large-scale renewable energy projects across Africa.

Increase efficiency

The campaign also supports the development of smart grids, micro-grids, and other innovative solutions that increase the efficiency, reliability, and affordability of electricity distribution in rural and under-served areas.

To boost household consumption of renewal energy, WePlanet Africa is seeking to engage governments and policymakers to subsidize energy and promote the adoption of cost-effective renewable energy technologies and energy-efficient practices that reduce the overall cost of power for consumers and businesses.

WePlanet Africa will also work with local communities to promote sustainable forestry practices, such as reforestation, agroforestry, and forest conservation, that generate income and wean them off biomass fuel as a way of protecting biodiversity while reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

Prosperous future

Patricia says through these initiatives, the ‘Switch on Africa’ Campaign aims to create a sustainable and prosperous future for Africa and its people.

“By transitioning to renewable energy and protecting its natural resources, Africa can create new economic opportunities, improve public health, and contribute to global efforts to combat climate change,”Patricia said.

“The Switch on Africa Campaign is a critical step towards realizing Africa’s potential as a leader in renewable energy and sustainable development,” she said and invited all stakeholders to join WePlanet Africa in this effort to create a better future for Africa and the world.

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