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The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), in collaboration with UN environment, Sida, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), ACSEA and Christian Aid (C.A) joined forces to organize the pre-side event on “Just Energy Transition and Access in Africa” back to back with the One Planet Summit, which was held on 12 March 2019 at the Trademark Hotel in Nairobi Kenya. The recommendations and key messages from the pre-event will be enunciated in the form of a common African statement to inform decision making during the One Planet Summit and UNEA-4.

This event brought together diverse groups of stakeholders from private and public sector and representatives of key civil society organizations, academia, line ministries, county and national governments, multinational development financial institutions, and regional economic and integration bodies engaged in energy access and energy transition, and discussed the way forward in the emotive subject of energy transition and its contribution to climate ambition. The outcome of this discussion and way forward is were presented during the One Planet Summit that was held on 14 March 2019 back to back with the UNEA 4.

About 80 participants including, Egypt High Commission to Somalia, representatives from African Development Bank (AfDB), Christina Aid, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Oil Change International, UN Environment, private sectors, banks, civil societies, NGOs, among others participated in this meeting.

PACJA and UN Environment used this meeting as a vehicle to bring together state and non-state actors engaged in energy access and energy transition to discuss and chart the way forward in the emotive subject of energy transition and its contribution to climate ambition. The results of this event will be built on at UNEA 4 in the context of “Sustainable Consumption and Production” towards the objective of empowering African women entrepreneurs in the energy value chain. This is in line with AWEEF’s mandate to create sustainable and impactful change.


  • Fiona Wollensack, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
  • Thuli Makama, Africa Director, Oil Change International
  • Yannick Ongowou Sonnet, General Director of the Environment and Nature Protection, Gabon
  • Mohammed Adow, Christian Aid
  • Mohamed Nasr, Egypt Ambassador to Somalia & Chair, African Group of Negotiators (AGN).
  • Meseret Zemedkun, Programme Manager, Energy Africa Office, UN Environment
  • Suresh Patel, Kenya Private Sector Alliance
  • Parmain Ole Narikae, Managing Director, Kenya Industrial Estates LTD

Major Issues Discussed:

  • Injection of a sense of urgency in the search for viable solutions to accelerate renewable energy development in Africa and ensuring that political will (as is desired in the One Planet Summit) is harnessed to attain energy justice in Africa.
  • Need for the provision of a platform for exchange, sharing and learning about the “One Planet Summit” and the role of various stakeholders in advancing its goal and objectives.
  • Discussion on the current trends and possible futures in energy and renewable energy finance, in particular how to secure sufficient financing for the implementation of energy projects and programmes that focus on women and youth in Africa.
  • Interrogations of emerging energy solutions, and the standpoints thereof among stakeholders regarding fossil fuel-based energy intensive development options and Renewables
  • Development of recommendations and key messages be highlighted during the One Planet Summit and UNEA-4
  • The next action steps, identification of collective action and role of each stakeholder in the collaborative effort in the advancement of the objectives of the One Planet Summit in energy.



Opening Session:

Augustine Njamnshi, Coordinator, African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA), chaired the opening session and opened the event with opening remarks. “We believe that in as much as we have not caused the climate change problem, we are most affected. The question is, do we have the right to pollute? Africa wants to take another path for its own development. As we move from the usually dirty energy to clean ones, we cannot shy away from the reality that in the last five years nearly 30% of the world’s oil and gas discoveries were in Sub-Saharan Africa”.

Mr. Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) later on set the pace in for the later deliberations by saying that. “The fight for safe, clean and sustainable energy is still far from being won, we need our leaders to step up and put in place consistent and coherent policies in the clean Energy space”.  He also gave a brief background on the journey of shaping the transition to clean energy conversation in most of Africa countries.

“The Africa Development Bank, (AfDB) has prioritized clean energy among its High Five projects” said Mr. Somorin Olufunso, the Principal Officer Green Growth Programme at the Bank. The Bank has launched a New Deal on Energy for Africa, which is built on five inter-related and mutually reinforcing principles: (i) raising aspirations to solve Africa’s energy challenges; ii) establishing a Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa; (iii) mobilizing domestic and international capital for innovative financing in Africa’s energy sector; (iv) supporting African governments in strengthening energy policy, regulation and sector governance; and (v) increasing African Development Bank’s investments in energy and climate financing.

The Deputy Regional Director, UN Environment-Africa Office said that bringing sustainable energy to the rural poor is one of the most important contributions that transition to a green economy would offer Africa. “In this context, UN Environment Africa office is implementing AMCEN’s decision in the energy sector in the context of Innovative Environmental Solutions towards the objective of achieving SDG 2030, Paris agreement 2015 and AU Agenda 2063”, he said. He added that in line with this, UN Environment facilitated the establishment of two major Energy initiatives: (a) Africa Renewable Energy Initiatives and (ii) Women Entrepreneurs and Sustainable Energy in Africa through the African Women Energy Entrepreneurs Framework (AWEEF).

Keynote Presentations:

The key note presentation by Ben Ireri, Director, and Regional Renewable Energy Access for Africa, World Resources Institute focussed on the Renewable energy landscape in Africa. He mentioned important facts that about 600 million people in Africa still do not have electricity; 730 million people rely on traditional biomass (wood fuel and charcoal) and about 600,000 people in Africa die each year as a result of household air pollution and that over 60 % of these victims are women.

Jackie Paterson from USA made a presentation on “Telling real energy poverty stories in the Global North- Energy justice as seen from the Global North”. She presented the Bayton Texas case study on Pollution from the oil and gas industry. She showcased the ‘Coal-Blooded’ investments favouring the donors who are putting profits before people’s welfare and lives. She added how, Pumalanga is the most polluted place in the world due to the coal mining in South Africa.

 Solution Proposals:

  1. Green New Deals – creating jobs for everyone, healthcare for all, etc. New Deal in SA (Africa leads). What we don’t need is more extractive investments coming into our communities.
  2. Unlocking clean energy to power and empower our communities (communities owning and controlling their own clean energy systems.)
  3. Calling for power without pollution.

 Panel Discussions on Energy Transition and Finance:

Fiona Wollensack, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH said that a study has found that 60 percent of international public finance in African energy goes to fossil fuels, compared to just 18 percent to cleaner alternatives. Are wealthy countries offshoring emissions?

Thuli Makama, Africa Director, Oil Change International said that an analysis by Oil Change International (OCI) published in July last year found that from 2014 to 2016, 60 percent of public finance for energy in Africa went to fossil fuels. And clean energy? Just 18 percent, with the remainder going to "other" projects including renewables that have a dubious social or environmental impact, like large hydropower and biomass.

Fiona Wollensack, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH pointed out that the European Investment Bank, which in particular stands out for being funded by countries that position themselves as climate progressives. "It's a really important question as to why are countries saying one thing about their commitment to climate change and then on the other hand financing the very fossil fuels that are fuelling the crisis," she said. And the problem is, the more fossil-fuel infrastructure is put in place, the more entrenched dirty, outdated energy production becomes.

"The thing with investing in public infrastructure today is that those investments are really long-term investments that are going to last decades into the future," Fiona says. "When you talk about investing in new coal plants or new fossil fuel infrastructure around the continent of Africa you're talking about these investments that are going to be protected by the companies that build them for

20, 30, 40 years."

“Do we really need the coal power plant in Lamu County and Kitui County in Kenya and other African locations, why are the foreign countries hooking dirty Energy on African Countries yet they themselves have Transited to Clean Energy,” posed Mr. Mohammed Adow- Christina Aid.

 Africa’s Responsibility

Africa’s energy transition is well underway, structured by national and regional contexts and priorities, as well as global policy frameworks and commitments that countries have made. France has made climate change a main focus of its investment in Africa, and around half of its energy financing went into clean projects, as did a similar proportion of Japan's.

Mohammed Adow, Christina Aid adviser for climate and energy, said that these figures are encouraging. “There is a push and there is a contest between the traditional ways of developing versus new way of doing things," he said. "And what we can see from this is that at least now we're getting to a point where the numbers are starting to show that the traditional way of doing things is no longer the only way."

 But with drought and flooding already happening more frequently than Africa can cope with, the change needs to come a lot faster. And if the international community isn't going to act responsibly, African nations and businesses must resist the lure of development built on outdated fuels. “These are individuals, institutions and countries which have self-determination and should be exercising a greater degree of informed decision-making due to the fact that we are the most impacted by climate change," Mohammed said. "We should be the ones holding our governments accountable to that kind of approach."

 Session 2: Addressing the twin challenge of climate change, energy poverty and women empowerment in sustainable energy in Africa:

 Seen as transformative, the two most ambitious AMCEN/AU-initiated Programmes– AREI and Woman Entrepreneurs and sustainable energy in Africa (WESE) – seek to close the energy gap while contributing to Africa’s transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient growth trajectory. At the eve of the adoption of the Paris Agreement in France in 2015, the G7 made a promise celebrated as the solution to the continent’s chronic energy deficit, and a leapfrog to renewable energy, by committing to the African Renewable Energy Initiative whose mandate is to achieve at least 10 GW of new and additional renewable energy generation capacity by 2020.

 On the other hand, during the 16th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, the Ministers adopted the Libreville outcome statement, which, among other things, empowers Woman entrepreneurs in sustainable energy in Africa. The African Women Entrepreneurs Energy Framework (AWEEF) was launched during the third United nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 3) to serve as a vehicle to ensure gender responsive policies in energy sector, enable access to finance and market as well as developing technical and business skills to enhance women’s empowerment and promote gender equality in situations of sustainable Energy development.

 Hon. Mohamed Nasr, Egypt Ambassador to Somalia & Chair, African Group of Negotiators (AGN) started the session with a brief presentation on AREI. Likewise, Meseret Zemedkun, Programme Manager UN Environment Africa Office- Energy followed with her presentation on AWEEF’s conceptualization to implementation. What was key is that both presenters agreed to synergize these initiative efforts conducted under AREI and AWEEF to scale up the harnessing of Africa’s huge renewable energy potential.

Panel Discussion: Public and Private Sector Engagement

 Surej Patel from Kenya Private Sector Alliance mentioned that Renewable Energy and Energy Transition has not taken place effectively yet, particularly for the women private sector and businesses in energy. There is very little awareness about the opportunities for the energy business, and ideas. The Market and Research in Africa is not well utilized as Africans borrow technologies instead of creating their own – (Lack of Africa-owned and Africa-led developments). 

 Mr. Suresh talked about ‘Energy Conversion’ as key to witness an energy revolution in Africa. This he argued that you can have access but what is key is how the energy can be utilized for other economic and social sectors like agriculture, schools, etc. The energy cross cutting role and not as a standalone is the main thing to be focussed on in Africa.

Mr. Suresh also stressed on strong governance and ethics as a lot is being lost/stolen from out tax revenue. Lastly but not least he stressed on our rich human capital and abundant resource that Africa has and therefore all it need to do is utilize it.  

 Parmain Ole Narikae, Managing Director, Kenya Industrial Estates LTD (under the Ministry of Industrial Trade), said that when we talk about energy we are talking about development, food security, health, human development, security, education. All human activity revolves around energy. Therefore, he posed a question on how can SME’s utilize and drive Africa’s green energy revolution. SMEs created about 10,000 jobs last year but most were using dirty energy. Sensitization and awareness creation is therefore very important. Unless we engage in public participation toward energy transition, we will not fully unlock the African potential. There also has to be a bottom up approach from the grassroots level to the top decision makers, development partners etc. This will make the transition more effective as opposed to the previous supplier-driven approach.


  • Stakeholders: Government and donor community engagement, guidelines for foreign investors to collaborate with local private sector stakeholders
  • Regulations: There is a need to simplify and easy regulatory procedures so as to encourage more investors in the sector
  • Knowledge & Information on potential resources and existing projects and best practices
  • Public awareness and participation
  • Technology knowledge and skills
  • Business skills for development and implementation of RE projects
  • Strong institutional support
  • Dedicated financing schemes for supporting renewable energy deployment

Outcome / way forward:

  1. Viable solutions to accelerate renewable energy development in Africa identified
  2. Role and objective of One planet summit in advancement of Renewable energy development shared
  3. Recommendations and Key messages of the workshop to be presented in the One Planet Summit developed

Conclusions / recommendations:

African countries need to meet fast-growing energy demand and extend modern energy services to more communities while also improving people’s health and ensuring long-term sustainability. The continent could meet nearly a quarter of its energy needs through the use of indigenous, clean, renewable energy by 2030. Roughly half of this would come through biomass-based heat applications, which will progressively displace unsustainable and unhealthy traditional biomass combustion.

Renewable energy capacity additions could increase the share of modern renewable energy technologies in the power sector to 50% by 2030, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 310 megatonnes. Amid record-low electricity prices from solar and wind energy, developing such projects has become more cost-effective than ever before.

This event recommends certain key actions to accelerate the continent’s renewable energy uptake.  These include adopting enabling policies, a regulatory framework to catalyse investment, measures to attract investors, and promoting off-grid renewable solutions to increase energy access and reduce poverty.


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