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JR AFrica

Africa's vast natural resources have been exploited for the benefits of others through transnational corporations and have left behind the majority of Africa’s peoples. (Photo: Friends of the Earth Africa)

100% Renewable Energy Is Possible: A Plan for Africa

Friends of the Earth Africa, along with 50 organizations across Africa, have signed a political statement demanding that our governments support and show their commitment to act on building renewable energy on our continent.

Dipti BhatnagarKwami Kpondzo

The science shows that climate change will hit Africa the hardest. In fact, global warming and extreme weather events are already threatening the poorest and most vulnerable people on the continent. The 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released 9 August 2021, exposed the fact that global warming has been more rapid in Africa than the rest of the world. This warming is already having devastating impacts for people, their livelihoods, and ecosystems. It is being driven by a greedy energy system that is based on extracting and burning fossil fuels. It is an energy system that disrespects and destroys all life on earth. The time to move away from harmful fossil fuels towards a transformed energy system that is clean, renewable, democratic, and actually serves its peoples, has never been more urgent.

The report identifies three funding sources that would not only fund the just transition but also address global income inequality and injustice: public finance from the global North, ending tax dodging, and dropping the debt.

Friends of the Earth Africa, a collective of sovereign organizations working with grassroots communities on environmental and rights-based struggles in the African region, released ‘A Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for Africa’ on 1 September 2021. The report, which is based on the research and modeling of renowned academic Dr. Sven Teske, shows that it is technically and financially feasible to achieve a 100% renewable energy goal for Africa by the year 2050. 

It shows the way to power Africa with renewable energy while also trying to stem the climate crisis, supporting employment, gender justice, reducing inequality, and pushing for a just recovery.

So how can Africa achieve this energy system transformation?

Africa needs approximately $130 billion a year between now and 2050 as investment towards achieving the 100% renewable energy goal. The report identifies three funding sources that would not only fund the just transition but also address global income inequality and injustice: public finance from the global North, ending tax dodging, and dropping the debt.

The one thing that stands in the way of achieving this is lack of political commitment from states on the continent but also from the global North.

This plan not only calls for urgent action, but provides a clear pathway to get the funding and achieve an 100% renewable energy transition. Friends of the Earth Africa, along with 50 organizations across Africa, have signed a political statement demanding that our governments support and show their commitment to act on building renewable energy on our continent. 

It is time for African governments and public and private financial institutions to end their interest and investment in dirty energy in Africa and open the doors further for democratized, low-cost renewable energy accessible to all including women, youth, local communities and indigenous peoples.

See the key elements of our political statement below.

The Just Recovery Energy Plan is for a 100% renewable energy independent Africa. 

We commit to the Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for 100% Renewable Energy independent Africa. This plan is needed to tackle the twin crises of climate change and Covid-19.

Africa is suffering from the impacts of climate change and Covid-19.

Africa is facing multiple inter-related crises. The continent of Africa is vulnerable because it is so exposed to climate change impacts. Our people are still reeling from the devastating impacts of cyclones Idai (2019), Kenneth (2019) and Eloise (2021) that caused extensive flood damage and deaths in Southern Africa. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the suffering of Africa’s people and exposed the unequal, unjust, and exploitative policies which are a legacy of the colonial and post-colonial systems. 

The level of energy poverty in Africa is unacceptable. 

Three-quarters of those without access to electricity now live in sub-Saharan Africa, a share that has risen over recent years. The majority of all Africans do not have clean energy sources for cooking. The number of deaths from respiratory infections is enormous and avoidable. The economic effects of Covid-19 increased the numbers of people who could not access electricity and who went into energy poverty. Africa's vast natural resources have been exploited for the benefits of others through transnational corporations and have left behind the majority of Africa’s peoples. 

We demand clean and affordable energy for hundreds of millions of Africans currently living in energy poverty.

This means a need for over 300GW of new renewable energy by 2030, as agreed by the African Union, and over 2000GW by 2050. The continent surpasses all other regions in having the most potential for renewable energy. We need to dismantle the existing dirty energy systems in order to leapfrog Africa to 100% renewable energy for all by 2050.

This plan is supported by movements and civil society across Africa and has been modeled by renowned scientists and economists.

It is technically and financially feasible, with an annual investment requirement of around US$130 billion per year. We know that this plan can easily be financed through stopping illicit financial flows, providing public climate finance, and the cancellation of Africa’s debt.

We support the creation of 7 million well-paid jobs in solar, wind, and clean people powered renewable energy through addressing climate change to build a just recovery for our peoples across Africa.

We support renewable energy jobs that respect worker’s rights and oppose discrimination on the basis of gender or any other forms of discrimination.

We call on the African Union, SADC, ECOWAS and African governments to adopt and develop Just Recovery plans at the regional and national level to ensure this energy transformation.

We demand a deep yet fast transformation of the energy system to enable people to choose and decide on democratic energy systems that work for communities. We cannot wait any more. We demand our governments remove all barriers for achieving the goal of 100% renewable energy for all.

We insist on a ban for any new fossil fuel development, as recently called for by the International Energy Agency and an acceleration in retiring existing ones as they are replaced by clean and affordable energy systems.

This must include addressing the environmental and social problems created by fossil fuel extraction to date. We need to deploy peoples-centered solutions. We demand to be consulted and to be part of the decisions for the future energy systems.

We demand that our governments take effective measures to prevent the corporate capture of our democracies, including by supporting the ongoing process towards a UN binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights; and by pulling out from any free trade agreement or investment treaty that allows corporations to obstruct the transition to a clean energy system.

A Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for a 100% renewable energy independent Africa is possible.

The finance exists and must be paid by those who caused the climate crisis in the first place. We demand a release of the pledged climate funds by the developed world. A just recovery energy plan for renewable energy Africa is our choice and our right. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Dipti Bhatnagar

Dipti Bhatnagar coordinates Friends of the Earth International's climate justice and energy programme. Born in Kolkata, India, Dipti has worked with Narmada Bachao Andolan to fight destructive dams in India, and on immigrant rights and safe drinking water for disadvantaged farmworker communities of color in California. She is based in Maputo, Mozambique, where she also works with JA!/Friends of the Earth Mozambique. Follow her on Twitter: @diptimoz

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Kwami Kpondzo

Kwami Kpondzo, from Friends of the Earth Togo

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