The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Sahara Group on Tuesday unveiled a plan to boost access to sustainable energy for 10 million households in Africa.
The two organisations pledged to realise the target through several alternative energy initiatives and interventions in various parts of the continent under the Africa Renewable Energy Forum.
Speaking at the launch of the Forum at the margins of the ongoing 74th UN General Assembly in New York, the groups said this is expected to bolster their ongoing partnership to create access to clean and affordable energy in Africa.
The Forum is expected to serve as a platform for policy discussions, multi-stakeholder collaboration and funding towards the implementation of tailored renewable energy solutions across the continent.
Besides, the groups said ultimately, the platform would galvanise the political momentum needed to record significant progress through strong partnerships, effective regulation and mutual accountability.
Africa is reputed to possess the highest percentage of untapped hydropower potential in the world, with only 11 per cent utilisation capacity.
The World Bank data released in May this year shows the global electrification rate reached 89 per cent in 2018, with 153 million people gaining access to electricity.
The data, however, showed the biggest challenge remained in the most remote areas globally and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, where an estimated 573million people are not connected to the power grid.
With over 600 million Africans having no access to electricity, Ahunna Eziakonwa, the regional director and assistant secretary-general for UNDP regional bureau for Africa, said the continent urgently needs to embrace renewable energy sources to sustainably connect the poorest and hardest to reach households.
“Access to energy will enhance the cause of poverty alleviation and also yield huge benefits for education, healthcare, production, and socio-economic development.
“The UNDP-Sahara partnership is extremely crucial as it will provide a model for engaging a wide range of stakeholders to address the continent’s energy challenge in line with the SDG framework,” Ahunna said.
For Kola Adesina, the group managing director, Sahara Power Group, the initiative has the potential to create over one million jobs in Africa as the continent continues its march towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal Agenda.
“Renewable energy is still in its infancy as far as Africa is concerned. We need unrelenting awareness initiatives to inspire a mindset shift to renewable energy in Africa with the various governments, private sector and development agencies leading the charge.
“At Sahara Group, we believe that interventions like the UNDP-Sahara partnership will enhance productivity and shared prosperity in Africa,” Adesina said.