Enhancing access to renewable energy: A dividend for a just transition to low-carbon economies
Progress in low-carbon development has been slow due to significant knowledge gaps. Wide deployment of renewable energy technologies is underway, but sustainability challenges remain at the community level and it is unclear whether energy access has translated into wider societal benefits. Empirical evidence is lacking in terms of the impacts of these off-grid energy solutions on gender equality, youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and employment creation. Future developments for an off-grid energy approach need to be informed as to how to effectively localize these technologies to accelerate their adoption at the community level while enhancing social and economic co-benefits.
This project will address these knowledge gaps by developing a practical framework that can inform future developments and the implementation of just transition pathways. It will assess the effectiveness of different renewable energy technologies in accelerating green jobs creation and a low-carbon trajectory in Uganda and South Africa; analyze the equity and distribution implications of energy transition in vulnerable communities across gender, age, and income groups; develop potential financial and business models to deliver a just transition pathway; and explore appropriate policy and regulatory interventions. The project will generate recommendations for future research and targeted policy interventions.
Geopolitics and Africa’s just transition
Africa’s transition to clean energy is prone to global geopolitics. The current global energy resulting from the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has led to a general increase in prices of food and other related commodities around the world. This is happening at a time when many countries are gradually recovering from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Looking at the discourse of the just transition across the world, Africa’s position and understanding need to be put within the contextual realities of the continent. Millions of people in Africa are hungry, energy impoverished, and depend on unclean energy. Additionally, over 80% of the population is in the informal sector, and they operate from the bottom of the pyramid. Given this, the discussion about the just transition in Africa needs to be centred on the socioeconomics of the continent. Africa is vulnerable to climate change because it has a very low socio-economic base. It is the least climate-resilient region and lacks the capacity and climate finance for adaptation and/ or mitigation. A just transition in Africa should ensure more access to resources. It should be about equity, putting food on the table, and more money in more pockets. Additionally, the discussions should shift to how Africa can leverage its abundance to cushion the livelihoods against shocks; because emergencies and calamities will continue. There is a need to climate-proof Africa so that the continent can be socio-economically viable and lift its people from the bottom of the pyramid.
Author(s): Amis, Mao, Mapanje, Olga