12 March 2018

Africa: Kagame - Solar Energy is a Solution to Climate Change

Photo: New Times
President Paul Kagame.

President Paul Kagame has called for increased adoption of solar energy saying that it's part of the answer to climate change.

President Kagame was yesterday speaking at the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Conference in New Delhi, India.

ISA is an initiative that was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on November 30, 2015.

It is a coalition of solar resource rich countries that seeks to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common approach.

Kagame said that it is an irony that some of the sunniest countries continue to lack energy.

"The sunniest countries on Earth should not lack energy. The fact that they do is an unacceptable irony. It is fitting that more than half of countries that have signed and ratified the International Solar Alliance treaty are African," he said.

Solar as a source of energy, he said, is part of the solutions to climate change as it is a clean energy source.

However, to speed up its adoption and uptake, he advised that it has to be affordable and reliable.

"Solar power is part of the answer to climate change. But to speed adoption and get the environmental benefits, solar energy has to be at least as reliable and affordable as other energy sources. We are not just protecting the environment; we are protecting people and their well-being," he said.

He also called for further advances in solar technology to add to its relevance and application.

"Advances in solar energy production must be matched by the development of batteries capable of storing it and smart grids to distribute it to customers," the president said.

Kagame noted that conversations about fully harnessing the capacity of solar energy comes at a time when the African continent is facing a huge demand for energy to meet development goals.

"To meet the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063 targets, tremendous expansion in energy production is required in almost every African country. The International Solar Alliance's twin mission of facilitating technology transfer and innovative financing is timely," he said.

"Solar power will not address all of Africa's energy needs, but it will continue to grow in importance as part of our continent's energy mix," he added.

Rwanda is among nations adopting solar energy solutions as part of the country's energy mix. Among the notable solar installations include an 8.5MW plant in Rwamagana district, and mini-solar energy installations in rural areas.

In the current national strategy, off-grid solutions, such as solar, are expected to account for about 48 per cent of national energy provision.

"In Rwanda, an 8.5MW solar power plant in Rwamagana District has already helped to stabilise daytime power supply in Eastern Province. The facility has also demonstrated that we can do much more," he said.

To raise funds required for solar investments in coming years, Kagame said that public-private partnerships would be an ideal avenue as governments alone cannot raise required funds.

"The one trillion dollars needed for solar investments globally in the coming years will obviously not come from governments alone. Public-private partnership is required.

The International Solar Alliance's proposed tools to mitigate credit risk sends an important signal to the market that solar energy is a viable business," he said.

The finalised ISA Framework Agreement has so far been signed by 56 countries including Rwanda.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Kagame held meetings with President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the Executive Director of UN Environment, Erik Solheim.


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