Environment stakeholders have proposed energy alternatives to fossil fuels while challenging communities in Africa to see themselves as climate actors to demand an end to dirty energy dependency and the accompanying environmental degradation.
For two days, local and international civil society and non-governmental organisations from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria, Kenya joined Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) in a virtual dialogue/School of Ecology on Climate and Power Alternatives.
The engagements held on June 22 and 23, 2020.
Speakers at the event include Nnimmo Bassey (Nigeria), Ken Henshaw (Nigeria), Fatima Diallo (Senegal), Marcelo Calazans (Brazil), IkalAngelei (Kenya), Philip Jakpor (Nigeria), Chibezie Ezekiel (Ghana), BabawaleObayanju (Nigeria), Hamza Hamouchene (Algeria), Enteng Bautista (Philippines) EmemOkon (Nigeria) and KwamiKpondzo (Togo).
Participants noted that Africans need a new mindset to build alternative power structures that would birth continent-wide distributed renewable energy micro-grids managed by communities and associations and not by shylock private companies. The failure to deliver power to the majority of Africans increases and locks in energy inequalities.
Here are 10 outcomes from the event:
“People should be given the opportunity and space to decide on the kind of power/energy system they need and how they get it. Their rights to live in harmony with nature and have their knowledge respected should be taken into account in national, regional and international negotiations on climate change and energy issues.
“There is urgent need to review our energy needs along the lines of renewable technology that are cheap, available, community-led and not imposed.
“Access to energy must be a fundamental right and not driven by markets or market- based solutions that present the same social and ecological problems that dirty energy sources generate.
“Governments must incentivize the use of renewables through eliminating taxes and tariffs on quality solar products and other renewable products.
“Civil society groups, faith-based organisations, women groups and the academia must continue to develop new strategies for engagement to promote of alternatives to meeting our energy and to stop the oil civilisation and needs.
“In planning energy projects, the free and prior informed consent of communities must be obtained while they retain their right to say no to such projects.
“Energy transition planning must be gender and socially inclusive at local, national, regional and international levels.
“Plans by the Nigerian government to build nuclear power plants in Akwa Ibom and Kogi States should be halted in line with the stand of the people.
“Africans and governments must engage in decolonisation of power narratives including by overturning the imaginary that presents oil, gas and coal as the unchangeable energy sources for Africa.
“Peoples all over the world were called upon to reject energy colonialism, predatory extractivism and to build/connect movements from below for a truly just energy transition.”
The event which also had students, community representatives and the academia participating interrogated the impacts of climate change as it relates to energy and power alternatives in Africa and across the world.
Participants agreed that oil dependency has spelt a big challenge for African governments which has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Series of climate change impacts such as extreme floods, cyclones, droughts and locust invasions that our reliance on fossil fuels to drive our economies has wrought were discussed.
It was noted that Africa certainly needs better energy access as over 640 million Africans (according to the African Development Bank) have no access to energy, corresponding to an electricity access rate for African countries standing at just over 40 percent and as the lowest in the world. It was however stated that we need to ensure better energy access based on a climate justice mindset which drives the political will to draw an immediate and long-term plan to power Africa from the abundant renewable resources she has while ensuring that these do not come with green land grabs and diverse dispossessions of poor communities and peoples.
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