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African Civil Society Launches Initiative to Support, Influence Low Carbon Energy Development in Africa

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By Robert Muthami and Isaiah Esipisu

African Civil Society Organisations, on the sidelines of the ongoing 27th African Union and Governments Summit in Kigali-Rwanda have launched an energy advocacy initiative dubbed the “The Big Shift” aimed at enhancing energy access among millions of African Energy poor.

The Initiative is in line with the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA) launched during one of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), and spearheaded by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

“African States continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels that are becoming more and more expensive for governments and households as prices are skyrocketing,” said Benson Ireri, the Senior Policy Advisor at the Christian Aid.

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He noted that 70 percent of the African population still does not have access to modern clean energy services that are efficient, reliable.

According to Mithika Mwenda, the Secretary General for PACJA, there are two global crises in the energy sector which often seem to have contradictory solutions. “The urgency of tackling climate change through a rapid global shift to low-carbon energy is one of the issues, and the secondly is the fact that more than two billion people continue to live in poverty because they have little or no access to clean and reliable energy,” he said.

And now, through a shift of investment away from centralized fossil fuel based energy towards diverse renewable energy sources, the CSOs believe that it is possible to deliver clean energy to developing countries, helping them overcome energy poverty in a way that will not lead to further devastating levels of global warming.

However, the CSO representatives said that, the shift will require a great political goodwill and a massive shift in energy investment strategies across the globe.

Over the next three years, the Big Shift campaign targets to build an international advocacy movement, supported by clear national and regional evidence from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. This is to ensure that the tens of trillions of dollars available for energy infrastructure projects are directed towards low-carbon renewable energy. This will allow the world’s poorest countries to pursue development agendas which will not have dangerous implications for the climate.

So far, the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) has launched an initiative known as Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI),which aims to produce 300 gigawatts (GW) of electricity for the continent by 2030.

The bank also has another initiative known as ‘The New Deal on Energy for Africa,’ which charts the way for a transformative partnership on energy focuses on mobilizing support and funding for the initiative from five key areas.

This is among many other many energy deals targeting Africa, such as the Obama Power Africa Initiative, and the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4A).

The ‘Big Shift’ will therefore track the implementation of investment under these energy initiatives.

“We need other civil society organisations to join the Big Shift initiative and demand for investment in the energy sector to be moved from fossil fuel to renewable or low carbon energy,” said Mithika Mwenda.

The initiative was launched with support from PACJA, Christian Aid and Action for Environment and Sustainable Development Network (AESDN).

About PACJA

PACJA is the largest alliance of CSOs with members in over 45 countries in Africa, embodying one African voice on environmental and climate justice. Its overall goal is to mobilize and empower African civil society to ensure realization of environmental and climate justice for all people in Africa.

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