Achieving universal energy access across Africa offers 120 billion USD a year that is an opportunity to power rural transformation, panel of experts reported.
According to Malabo Montpellier Panel press statement sent to ENA, achieving universal energy access with the help of mini and nano solutions is vital to meet rising food demand and transform rural lives in Africa.
Despite hosting 20 per cent of the global population, Africa accounts for just 6 percent of the world’s energy demand leaving rural areas relying on manpower for as much as 80 percent of the energy used in farming.
The Panel analyzed six African countries including Ethiopia, South Africa and Ghana that had made significant progress in connecting rural areas to energy sources in its latest report.
The rapid spread of off-grid and mini-grid solutions for renewable energy offers hope that Africa can leapfrog outdated and dirty technologies, with almost five million families installing solar home systems in 2018, the report stated.
However, the report indicated that achieving universal energy access will require a fourfold increase in investment to 120 billion USD a year by 2040.
“As demand for food continues to grow globally, universal access to energy will become an urgent necessity, both for the production, processing and consumption of more nutritious food,” said Ousmane Badiane, Co-chair of the Malabo Montpellier Panel, which met in Gambia for the Malabo Montpellier Forum.
“Access to reliable, affordable and sustainable sources of energy to prepare land, plant, harvest, process, distribute and cook food, will ensure that Africa’s agricultural sector can respond to this demand, all within the context of climate change and increasingly scarce natural resources.”
Experts from the Malabo Montpellier Panel highlighted opportunities for greater energy access to transform the livelihoods of the rural poor, reducing the drudgery of their work and generating higher incomes.
The new report added that investing in new off-grid and mini-grid technologies to extend energy access across Africa will be instrumental in helping smallholder farmers to meet rising food demand.
The report recommended integrated policies for agriculture, energy and health, a cross-border framework for energy security, and investing in innovative, alternative solutions such as mini, micro and nano grids in additional to conventional sources of power.
Around 600,000 people die every year in Africa from noxious fumes produced by cooking stoves and fuel wood, it was learned.
The Malabo Montpellier Panel convenes 17 leading African and international experts in agriculture, ecology, nutrition and food security to guide policy choices by African governments to accelerate progress towards food security and improved nutrition in the continent.