Kenya has taken on a bold green growth initiative that aims to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, President William Ruto has said.
Ruto said this comprehensive plan also includes promoting green manufacturing, sustainable agriculture, eco-friendly urbanization, and green transportation. Currently, Kenya's grid is 92 percent renewable.
Nevertheless, the Head of State said that in order for Kenya and the rest of the continent to achieve green industrialization based on renewables, investment, and financing are needed.
The President, speaking at the 36th regular session of the African Union Assembly in Addis Ababa, said that energy production and access hold back the rise of the continent; on the other hand, he said Africa's renewable energy potential is 50 times the global anticipated electricity demand in 2040.
President Ruto highlighted the continent's significant potential for renewable energy, which he believes can support its development goals: "Africa is rich in solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro resources," he said.
Of particular note is the Grand Inga dam, which he said could potentially generate up to 40 per cent of the electricity needed on the continent.
This underscores the immense scale of Africa's renewable energy potential, and President Ruto sees it as a key driver of sustainable development.
Ruto drew attention to Africa's vast potential in the renewable energy sector. He said the continent boasts 60 per cent of the world's best solar resources. This makes it an ideal location for solar power. In addition, 80 per cent of the new power generation capacity is renewable.
"To crown it all, Africa accounts for over 40 per cent of global reserves of cobalt, manganese, and platinum - key minerals for batteries and hydrogen technologies," he said.
President Ruto expressed optimism about the continent's potential to become a global leader in sustainable industrialization. "We, therefore, have an opportunity to lead the world and show that we can industrialize and prosper - and achieve this in a low carbon and sustainable manner, and make this century, an African Century," Ruto said.
The president highlighted the continent's vast clean energy resources and emphasized the potential to leapfrog the dirty energy practices of the past. By harnessing these resources, he believes that Africa can achieve economic growth while minimizing its carbon footprint.
Ruto emphasised the importance of Africa's role in promoting sustainable and equitable economic development, despite being among the least responsible for climate change.
"Although we Africans are least responsible for climate change the most at risk, we can lead the way in ensuring green growth as a critical pathway to a sustainable future and economic prosperity, decoupling economic development from carbon and the use of polluting energy," he noted.
Leaders who spoke to The Standard immediately after the statement said it reflected a growing recognition of the importance of sustainable development and clean energy for both the environment and economic growth.
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Wangari Muchiri, Africa Director for the Global Wind Energy Council said that by prioritizing renewable energy and investing in green growth, Kenya is positioning itself as a leader in the global transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon future.
Muchiri said it is commendable that Kenya is leading the way with an ambitious green growth agenda especially targeting 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
"This will be a great example for other countries in the region and will make Kenyan products more attractive to external markets such as the EU. We look forward to seeing wind energy, which already provides 15 per cent of Kenya's energy, is a key pillar in the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy." Muchiri said.
While Mohamed Adow, Climate Justice Advocate and Director of Energy and climate think-tank, Power Shift Africa said this is a huge wake-up call for African leaders meeting in Addis Ababa, and exactly the kind of leadership we need to see.
"Africa is well placed to take advantage of this moment considering it has more wind and solar energy resources than any other continent on earth. But our leaders need to take a Pan-African approach and work together if we're going to capitalize on this opportunity," Adow said.
Landry Ninteretse, regional director at 350 Africa, a grassroots climate change advocacy organisation said President Ruto's rallying call to our African leaders to prioritize a transition to renewable energy on the continent is laudable.
He added that Africa suffers disproportionately from the impacts of climate change, and cannot afford to be non-committal on climate action. There must be urgent, concerted efforts to phase out fossil fuels, including gas, and build sustainable, community-centred renewable energy systems.
" However, African leaders cannot claim to champion the energy transition while fronting fossil gas as part of the solution and making plans for its expansion. Leading the way on green growth means accelerating the just energy transition that is indispensable in radically transforming the continent, socially, economically, and ecologically, "Ninteretse said.