2 November 2015

Africa: UN Official Sees Potential of Sino-Africa Cooperation On Renewable Energy

Harare — There is huge potential for China and Africa to collaborate in the development of renewable energy sources as the continent steps up efforts to cope with climate change, a senior official with a UN agency has said.

Africa had become increasingly vulnerable to climate change and there was need for the continent to adapt to global warming and ensure energy security through accelerated investment in renewable energy, said Fatima Denton, a director of special initiatives division in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

She told Xinhua on the sidelines of the fifth conference on climate and development in Africa underway in the resort town of Victoria Falls. She said Africa could tap into China's vast technological advancement to develop climate resilient energy infrastructure.

"China is supporting many African countries in terms of building infrastructure that is climate resilient.

"Given its experience in the industrialization process, China could also support Africa because we can't industrialize if we don not have energy corridors and much of what China has experienced tells us that we can also get it right and so China in many ways is the one to follow because of the fact that as much as they continue to emit they are also taking huge steps to reduce global emission," she said.

Denton noted that China had already started to collaborate with various African countries in building climate resilient energy infrastructure in such countries as Ethiopia but observed that such collaboration needed to be enhanced.

Africa possessed plenty of potentially renewable energy sources such as hydro power, geothermal, biomass, solar and wind energy and these presented huge investment opportunities for China, Denton said.

Confronted with huge energy requirements to power its development, Africa continues to lag behind in the exploitation of renewable energy mainly due to lack of funding to bankroll clean energy projects.

This is happening against the background of growing threats to Africa's energy security posed by climate change.

Denton said China could also collaborate with Africa in developing climate resilient agriculture and mining systems.

With Africa's economy largely dependent on agriculture and mining, it was imperative that the continent scaled up investment in climate resilient infrastructure in the two sectors to ensure sustainable and equitable growth.

"South-south collaboration is going to be part of the solution. Collaboration can start with agriculture because China has done a lot in terms of moving from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture," she said.

With the extractive industry contributing significantly to the growth of many African economies, it was crucial for African countries to collaborate with China in the development of climate resilient mining infrastructure, Denton said.

"We want to see how we could work very closely with China to ensure that in the extractive development sector they are able to support us in creating environment safeguards and standards and to ensure that whatever we do is done within environment lenses bearing in mind environmental consequences," Denton said.

Climate change experts attending the three-day conference also observed that renewable energy has potential to transform Africa's power sector and guide energy generation to low carbon growth.



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