African countries’ energy sector commitments in accordance with the Paris Agreement


The COP21 Paris Agreement came into force in November 2016 with more than 20 African countries having ratified the agreement and deposited their first Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The NDCs outline the plans of each country to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change and to contribute to the central goal of the Agreement to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels.

Given that many African countries are among the list of Least Developed Countries (LDC), they are among the lowest contributors to harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) however, they are also the ones at the highest risk of the effects of climate change due to their reliance on natural resources which are climate-sensitive. With this in mind,  in coming up with their NDCs, most of the African countries have set ambitious targets to reduce their emissions. The indicated reductions are in comparison to the emissions that would arise by 2030 in a business-as-usual scenario.

For most of the countries the energy sector is one of the main contributors of GHGs and measures have therefore been outlined to reduce the emissions from this sector. Some countries have outlined their measures very clearly with figures included while some give a brief overview of their mitigation measures.

Algeria plans to increase its electricity generation from renewable energy to 27% by 2030. Djibouti has set an ambitious target of reduction of GHGs emissions by 40% with mitigation measures in the energy sector including building of high voltage electricity transmission lines from Ethiopia (who generate 90% of their electricity from renewable sources), building of utility-scale wind and solar farms, promoting energy efficiency in buildings among other measures.

Ghana which is considered a leader in energy access in West Africa plans to reduce it GHGs emissions by 15%. It’s energy mitigation measures are clearly outlined and include; increasing their renewable energy penetration to 10% by increasing medium/small hydroelectricity plants to 150-300MW, increasing solar and wind power  installed capacity to 150-250MW and 150-300MW respectively, establishing 55 mini-grids with an average capacity of 100kW each, scaling up solar home systems in urban and rural areas among other measures.

Ghana plans to establish 55 mini-grids with a total capcity of 10MW as part of its climate change mitigation measures

Kenya’s NDCs in relation to the mitigation measures in the energy sector include; increased use of geothermal, solar and wind energy sources, increasing energy efficiency n different economic sectors and reducing overreliance on wood fuels.

Mauritius which is a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), is especially vulnerable to adverse effects caused by climate change like intense cyclones, rise of sea levels and flash floods. For this reason, Mauritius intends to reduce it’s GHGs emissions by 30% by among other measures, increasing the use of renewable energy sources (biomass, solar and wind), increasing energy efficiency in various economic sectors among other measures.

Rwanda’s NDCs are derived from its National Strategy for Climate Change and Low Carbon Development Strategy. In its mitigation measures in the energy sector, Rwanda plans to; increase its renewable energy share in its electricity generation mix, upgrade its transmission network to enable import of electricity to reduce generation from fossil fuels, establish 100 solar PV mini grids with a total capacity of 9.4MW in rural unelectrified areas, increase use of improved cookstoves in rural areas to 100% among other measures.

Rwanda plans to establish 100 solar PV mini grids with a total capacity of 9.4MW in rural unelectrified areas

Somalia has experienced accelerated deforestation due to the increased charcoal trade leading to adverse climate change effects. To reduce the reliance on charcoal, Somalia plans to increase the penetration of efficient cookstoves and promotion of alternation fuel sources e.g LPG. In addition to these measures, Somalia also plans to rehabilitate the Fanoole hydroelectric plant that was developed in the pre-civil war period and promote the use of solar energy by both the private mini-grids that provide electricity and individuals.

South Africa which is currently heavily reliant on coal-fired power plants plans to implement measures that promote energy efficient lighting and appliances, electric and hybrid vehicles, exploitation of wind, bioenergy, and solar PV resources, promote carbon capture and sequestration.

Zambia’s intended mitigation measures include switching from fossil fuel power plants to biodiesel, biomass and mini-hydro, and use of renewable energy technologies to electrify rural areas.

While these countries’ plans to mitigate climate change if implemented would go a long way in creating a more sustainable future for Africa, the investments required for implementation of these measures are in the order of billions of US dollars. The good news is that with the Paris Agreement coming into force, more and more investors are divesting from fossil fuels and focussing their investments in sustainable energy.

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