In a recent public lecture at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo proposed that tackling energy poverty in Africa could be the key to achieving middle-income status and societal prosperity for African countries. He argued that Africa’s endowments, renewable energy, natural resources, and a young workforce present a compelling set of circumstances for several pathways to climate-positive growth. Osinbajo outlined three specific pathways that would lead to climate-positive economic growth in Africa while realizing global net-zero emissions targets.
The first pathway is the promotion of low emissions consumption and production. Instead of relying on carbon-intensive energy sources, Africa could leverage green technologies and practices. The second pathway involves investing in carbon removal technologies and practices, such as planned land use, ecosystem management, and emerging engineered removal technologies. Africa’s large carbon sinks and unused agricultural waste offer an abundance of opportunities for clean energy production and soil improvement. The third pathway involves Africa becoming a competitive green manufacturing and energy hub for the world. By doing so, the continent could accelerate the greening of global industry.
According to Osinbajo, achieving these pathways’ goals requires developed countries to change their perception of Africa from a victim to a solution in the climate change conversation. Beyond climate justice, a real opportunity for Africa and the world lies in climate-positive growth, where Africa pursues a carbon-negative path to middle-income status and beyond.
To achieve this, there must be a significant investment in renewable energy, and both renewable energy generation capacity and industrial deployment must develop concurrently. Osinbajo noted that gas could serve as a transition fuel to balance large influxes of solar power on the grid, mitigate against job losses, and bridge the gap before the full use of renewables is commercially practical.
In conclusion, Osinbajo called for the world’s regions, especially those that are off track to achieve net zero by 2050, to fill the gap and support Africa in realizing these pathways’ goals. Achieving these goals would require partnerships and participation from Nigeria and other African countries. The lecture series is part of the University of Pennsylvania’s efforts to build strong relationships with Africa and promote global progress in the battle against climate change.