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Boost sought for Africa's green shift

By OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-09-20 11:43

Greater cooperation with China vital for energy transformation, experts say

Experts from China and Africa have called for more intensified cooperation between the two sides on renewable energy to aid Africa's green transition and fight climate change.

Li Wentao, a researcher from the Institute of African Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that Africa's shift to green energy is taking place against the constraints posed by insufficient energy supply overall on the continent. That means greater efforts should be directed into renewable energies.

"Despite being a low contributor to carbon emissions, Africa is bearing the brunt of climate change," Li told a virtual forum last week. "The severe floods in South Africa and the current drought in the Horn of Africa are testimony to this. In some cases, climate change leads to a fight for resources, which has caused a number of conflicts on the continent.

"China would like to share its experience over the last two decades with Africa in combating climate change by bridging the gap in the continent's energy needs and reversing effects of climate change in areas like solving industrial waste management problems."

At the event hosted by the Africa Policy Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, and the China National Petroleum Corporation's Economics & Technology Research Institute, Li said cooperation between China and Africa on climate change is making progress because both parties are aware that different countries and regions face different challenges and should apply different solutions.

Tapping into resources

Garth Le Pere, a professor of international relations at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, said Africa has enough resources to service current and future energy demands. But attracting investment and tapping into existing resources remain a major challenge.

"Africa's energy potential, especially in renewable energy, is enormous yet only a fraction of it is being currently employed. The continent is in a position to benefit from China's record in technology for alternative energy since China is on track to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060," Pere said.

Charles Onunaiju, director of the Center for China Studies in Abuja, Nigeria, hailed China's investment in fighting climate change, saying that it goes beyond paltry donations to skills development, training and technology transfer.

"John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, recently committed $200 million to help Nigeria and other countries in the region transition faster to clean energy economies," Onunaiju said. "However, many media houses in Nigeria criticized this as a paltry amount and a superficial effort. Africa needs a more thought-out approach like the one we enjoy with China."

Li Junfeng, a former director at China's National Center for Climate Change Strategy, pointed out that Africa and China need to pursue development while keeping carbon emissions low and this provides an opportunity for collaboration.

"China has set aside a fund to assist Africa and other developing countries to reduce carbon emissions through cooperation in technology, especially in the transition to green energy like solar," Li said.

Peter Kagwanja, the chief executive officer at the Africa Policy Institute, said that in mitigating the impacts of climate change, China-Africa cooperation continues to uphold the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development.

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