Every so often, we see the shift from non-renewable to renewable sources of energy as a new form of empowerment. While this is definitely a positive impact, we need to understand why this happens. The easiest way to understand this is through a statement made: it was seen that people or companies that wanted to invest in Africa in 2017, wanted to invest mainly in renewable sources of energy. This reflects the fact that with the growth of the energy sector in a sustainable manner, there is growth and development for the economy brought in by the investments which in turn leads to economic empowerment and a higher standard of living, reducing poverty.
It is seen that renewable energy solutions are both beneficial to the environment as well as when it comes to reducing poverty. In Zambia for example, the bank said it would donate $12billion in the next five years for investment in renewable sources of energy. Along with this, the bank will support African governments in strengthening their energy policies. This is expected to unlock Africa’s energy potential and lead to more sustainable and efficient means of energy production. Initiatives like Energise Africa exist to provide the same support by providing investments within the energy sector and providing African families with a financing plan. This thus alleviates the poverty as it allows the families to create their own energy and finance their own necessities accordingly.
Similarly, Power for All supports the privatisation of energy access and acts as a new opportunity for investment in solar and hydro energy. Following this project, in Tanzania, 83% of women with solar lanterns had increased control over financial decisions and 63% felt more respected and empowered within their community. Morocco has already set an example for the rest of the continent with their energy target of 42% by 2020 to be from renewable sources. Their renewable energy investments grew from $297 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion 2013 because of the reduction in fossil fuel investments. It is also amazing to see that ever since its turn from non-renewable to renewable sources, there has been a reduction in poverty in South Africa.
While we see that it is Africa’s energy deficit that reinforces its poverty, we must also acknowledge that it is the changing energy sector that will allow the people of the continent to empower themselves and find a way of out of the vicious cycle of poverty, something that has been happening and will continue to happen because of the immense growth that has taken place all over the continent.