Opinion Piece – What a just transition to low-carbon economy looks like for us in Africa

Guest contributor, Humphrey Kariuki

Friday, November 11, 2022

International leaders are in our backyard for this year’s aptly dubbed “African COP” – currently being held in Cairo, Egypt. Everywhere we are seeing the term, “just transition”.

However, we, as Africans, contribute no more than 3.0 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions but disproportionately suffer from its impacts.

We do not have the fiscal guardrails to deal with the existential impacts of climate change such as increased droughts and flooding. While the social and environmental loss to Kenya is immense it also structurally limits our current and future economic growth.

Kenya, and other East African countries, must balance the need to approach our climate commitments and create a pro-growth entrepreneurial and business environment.

These are not mutually exclusive. We must develop the economic infrastructure for Kenyans to live prosperous lives as other countries have done for centuries. The truth is that the economy and the environment are not separate; in fact, they complement each other.

According to Green Africa Foundation, 68 percent of Kenya’s population relies on wood fuel and other biomasses as their primary source of energy for cooking and other essentials due to unaffordability and constraints in access to reliable grid power, leading to significant deforestation and other detrimental environmental impacts.

There are clear environmental benefits to alternative sources of energy such as hydro, geothermal, wind, and solar. As an investor in the energy sector, I also see a strong business case to pursuing these investments as they have the added benefit of increasing diversified supply of energy for Kenyans and Africans.

In the immediate term, there are cleaner energy opportunities like liquified natural gas (LNG) which omits significantly less Co2 than coal and oil. LNG is widely available across the continent but is predominately an export fuel.

By limiting the availability of funding for LNG projects across the continent we are limiting the continent’s development using locally available cleaner fuels. We must also think boldly and find solutions as we move towards a low-carbon economy.


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