Switch on Africa: RePlanet unveils ambitious campaign to boost investment in clean energy

Windmill in a rural area during sunset

[Kampala, October 16, 2023] – RePlanet, a global grassroots environmental movement, has launched a continent-wide campaign to address the crippling energy crisis in Africa. Spearheaded by RePlanet Kenya and RePlanet Uganda, the ambitious ‘Switch on Africa’ campaign, campaign seeks to catalyze investment for large-scale clean energy projects, advocate for policies that reduce the cost of power, raise awareness about the benefits of renewable energy, and support local communities in adopting sustainable energy practices.

Africa’s Energy Crisis

According to WePlanet Africa Director Patricia Nanteza, the “Switch on Africa” campaign aims to confront the stark reality of the energy crisis in Africa which is characterized by frequent blackouts, high electricity costs, and reliance on ‘dirty’ fuel for cooking.

Africa’s electricity consumption levels are significantly lower than those of the Global North. For instance, Kenya, with a population of 53 million, has 3 gigawatts of installed capacity, while Nigeria, with 213 million people, has only 12 gigawatts. In comparison, the UK, with a population of 67 million, boasts 75 gigawatts of installed capacity. Americans on average use 13,395 kWh/year (IEA data for 2010), which is almost 100 times the average Nigerian.

In 2022, the continent’s total installed electricity capacity was 245 GW with 1.4 billion people while the US, with 333 million people (less than a quarter of Africa’s population) had 1,160,169 MW—or about 1.16 billion kW. The International Monetary Fund 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.

This vast energy disparity, coupled with inadequate infrastructure and limited investment, leaves 640 million people in Africa and 4 in 5 people in Sub Saharan Africa without access to reliable electricity. This situation jeopardizes the health of families, particularly women and children who are exposed to indoor air pollution, and poses a threat to the continent’s forests.

A report by the UN’s Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) highlights that deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa is fueled by the prevalent use of wood fuel. Africa, accounts for roughly one-sixth of the world’s remaining forests, but contributes a staggering 43% of recent global deforestation as noted in the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020.

To address all these challenges, the International Energy Agency estimates that sub-Saharan Africa will require more than $300 billion in investment to narrow the energy access gap and achieve universal electricity access by 2030.

Campaign Objectives

According to Ms Nanteza, the campaign lends itself to this responsibility by advocating for a massive increase in investment in renewable energy, increasing electricity consumption by 5 to 10-fold, eventually eliminating large-scale firewood and charcoal use and thereby protecting African forests.

“Our goal is to ensure Africans have access to more than just a single light bulb, which is the standard UN definition of energy access. Through this campaign, we are calling upon Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and Global North governments to provide massive funding for grid-scale clean energy, to discontinue fossil fuel financing, and for African governments to implement policies that ban charcoal burning while providing alternative sustainable livelihoods for those currently doing this occupation,” said Nanteza.

“The Switch on Africa” campaign is a call to action for governments, businesses, and investors to boost household and industrial clean electricity consumption, accelerate the transition to clean energy, and protect the environment,” she added.

Ambitious Targets

Through this campaign, RePlanet aims to increase electricity consumption 5 to 10-fold, lobby for significant investment in clean and renewable energy from western development partners, and encourage African governments to subsidize energy access to end deforestation for charcoal and wood fuel.

Campaign Activities

As part of the campaign, RePlanet will conduct street-level activities to highlight the impact of lack of electricity access, encourage public pledges to reduce charcoal and firewood usage, demand stronger forest-protection measures, and maintain a prominent presence at climate conferences, emphasizing a climate and energy prosperity agenda for Africa.

Focus Countries

The initial focus of the campaign is on Kenya and Uganda, with plans to expand to western and southern Africa.

Join the Movement

RePlanet invites individuals, communities, the private sector, and governments to join the Switch on Africa campaign. Together, let’s ignite a brighter, sustainable future for Africa—one powered by clean energy, protected forests, and shared prosperity.

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