Powering Climate Action in Africa with Renewable Energy

18 March 2019| Articles


Africa Climate Week (ACW) 2019 kicks off today in Accra, Ghana. The first of three annual regional climate events ahead of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, ACW brings together international, regional and national stakeholders to discuss climate change and actions and to strengthen stakeholders’ engagements in key sectors including energy, agriculture and human settlement.

Although Africa is rich in renewable energy resources, penetration of renewables has lagged behind other regions. However, as costs have fallen the deployment of solar PV, concentrated solar power and onshore wind has started to accelerate, albeit unevenly across the continent. Utility-scale solar PV projects that were commissioned in Africa in 2018 achieved a weighted average cost of 0.122/kWh, some 40% higher than the global average. In contrast, onshore wind projects achieved competitive prices of USD 0.056/kWh. Cost reductions are expected to continue to drop, however, and this makes renewables an increasingly attractive ‘win-win’ solution to drive sustainable development while meeting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The theme of this year’s ACW is, “Climate Action in Africa: A Race We Can Win” and the event will focus on building a strong regional foundation for climate action under the Paris Agreement. As the world’s platform for renewable energy cooperation, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will play a pivotal role in facilitating progress on sustainable development and NDC fulfilment through the deployment of low-carbon renewable energy solutions.

Key IRENA-facilitated or supported sessions include:

NDC Dialogue

For the first time, African countries will gather together to discuss ways to accelerate the implementation of climate action in line with the global temperature goals of the Paris Agreement and countries’ individual NDCs. The session at ACW will contribute to the preparation for second-round NDCs with increased coverage, clarity, and ambition – as well as long-term, low-GHG emission development strategies – ahead of the 2020 deadline.

IRENA is facilitating the NDC Dialogue, during which participants will jointly consider the gap to meet the long-term goal and the need and avenues for raising national, regional, and global ambition, exchange experiences and lessons learned to address challenges relating to NDC preparation, implementation, and finance; and discuss synergistic implementation of NDCs, national development plans, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Marrakech Partnership

The session will seek to build regional support and participation in the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action. IRENA will support efforts to build on three transformative areas of the United Nations Secretary General’s Summit, namely, 1) enabling environments for non-state action; 2) long term policy making and 3) sustainable finance.

Thematic Sessions

IRENA is co-hosting a number of thematic sessions. The first one, “Technology Opportunities of the Energy Transition”, emphasises how technology can present opportunities for everyone to take part in the energy transition. It will provide an overview of the latest innovations and dynamic developments in the energy sector, including both centralised and decentralised power systems.

Another, “Innovate4Cities”, is a hosted roundtable discussion between mayors, city practitioners, academics, non-governmental organizations, and national governments at the UNFCCC Africa Climate Week, to discuss data and technology priorities – specific to data access, renewable energy, and transportation – that are key to support cities and local governments to act on climate at the speed and scale necessary to support parties to meet their Paris Agreement commitments.

A third, “Maximizing Benefits through a Clean Energy Transition: A Key Path to Achieving Global Climate Goals” looks at the multiple benefits of transitioning to more sustainable energy production and consumption, with a focus on demand for cooling, highlights proven policies and other tools to harvest these benefits, and encourages collaboration to achieve more with existing resources and tap new opportunities.

Ghana-NDC Investment Forum

The forum aims to catalyse private sector investment, and financial as well as substantive support from all relevant stakeholders to help Ghana implement its climate commitments. During the forum, proven climate solutions will be showcased to attract private investment, present investment-ready climate NDC projects and introduce entry points for private sector to engage in NDC actions.

The outcomes of the above sessions will inform the Africa Climate Week’s communique, including providing specific recommendations to accelerate NDC progress and ambition, in the lead up to the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September.

For more information, visit the ACW website