AfDB president promotes African energy transition in Europe


African Development Bank Group’s Dr Akinwumi Adesina tells leaders in Berlin that Africa is the sustainable solution but needs investment.

AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina has called on Europe to invest in Africa’s energy transition to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Making his remarks at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, which was hosted by the German federal government, Adesina called for investment in a cleaner, brighter and more prosperous future for Africa while underscoring Africa’s enormous potential to become a global leader in sustainable development.

At the same time, however, Adesina highlighted the significant energy challenges millions of Africans still face. This includes at least 600 million people living without access to electricity, and 970 million who lack access to clean energy for cooking.

These troubling figures mean that achieving sustainable development goal 7 of affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, will require the connection of 90 million people annually to electricity by 2030, while moving 130 million people from dirty cooking fuels each year. That challenge, and the wider scale of Africa’s energy transition needs, he said, would require an estimated $100bn annually between 2020 and 2040.

Adesina has spoken before about the role Africa can play as a solution to global sustainability and he repeated in Berlin that this was not only about renewable energy, saying: “Africa is a crucial source for minerals and metals for clean energy value chains, including electric vehicles and utility-scale battery storage. Africa is therefore the perfect place to build lithium-ion batteries to power German cars.”

While the African Development Bank is spearheading efforts to unlock Africa’s vast renewable energy potential, with 86% of its power generation investments in renewables and a ban on coal energy projects, Adesina explained that natural gas would be a crucial part of Africa’s diversified energy mix to guarantee a secure energy supply.

“Africa must be given time to transition and be allowed to use its natural gas resources as a transition fuel, just like it is the case in Germany, as well as Europe,” he said. Renewables are expanding in Africa and the continent does have huge potential for green hydrogen too. But he noted that intermittency is a problem, and that “natural gas is therefore a key part of the energy mix for assuring security of supply and critical for Africa,” Adesina said.

The annual Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue is a joint initiative of the German Renewable Energy Federation, the German Solar Association, the German Energy Agency and consulting firm eclareon. The forum draws a wide range of prominent participants from the energy sector including policymakers and representatives from industry, science and civil society.