Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said 19 of the 20 countries with the lowest rates of access to clean cooking were in Africa. He said this during his recent visit to Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.
The 20 countries are South Sudan, Burundi, Liberia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Guinea, Rwanda, Gambia, Niger, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin and Haiti (the only non-African country).
Addressing staff and students of the school, Prof. Osinbajo said Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region with a growing number of people without access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.
According to Sustainable Energy for All (SEForAll), about 2.6 billion people lack access to clean cooking solutions, with access rates lowest in sub-Saharan Africa. In March 2022, SEForAll also estimated that the global cost of using traditional cooking fuels is $2.4 trillion each year, while funding for clean cooking solutions remains far below the estimated $4 billion needed annually to provide universal access by 2030
In his speech, Prof. Osinbajo said the poor and vulnerable in developing economies are the first to suffer and the most affected by the effects of climate change. According to him, there is no place on earth that is immune to the effects of climate change. However, the impact is different across key regions and groups.
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Climate change as a social problem: Prof. Osinbajo believes that climate change is an inherently social issue with implications for social justice. He said there was a need to reframe the paradigm of climate action from merely technical efforts to reduce emissions to an approach that puts people and addresses social inequality at the center of efforts.
African economies take a hit: Stressing that climate change is more evident in Africa than any other region, Prof. Osinbajo highlighted the fact that estimates by the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) show that African economies are already between 5 and 15% smaller due to climate change. However, he stated:
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- “I must emphasize that developing economies are not looking for a free pass when it comes to climate action. There is more than enough evidence of a commitment to developing climate-sensitive, locally based transition pathways, as many of us have done with our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).”
While highlighting Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan (ETP), Prof. Osinbajo asked countries in the Global North to recognize the need for a wide range of options and different pathways to net zero emissions in Africa.
Prof. Osinbajo gave some highlights of what a just energy transition should look like:
- Developing economies must have universal access to energy at levels sufficient for decent living and economic growth.
- The energy transition must put access to energy for both consumption and production purposes, as well as the necessary policy flexibility and financial and technical support, at the center of climate action.
- Providing capital for the construction of energy systems is fundamental to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- To meet its decarbonisation obligations, Africa needs both conventional and capital flows and the development of innovative mechanisms such as climate debt investments and carbon trading.
- Inhibiting restrictions on development financing must be removed and high-quality technology transfer must take place to ensure that developing regions have access to the latest energy innovations and can build local industries on fair terms.
For the record: Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan focuses on lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty and stimulating economic growth, providing modern energy services to the entire population of the country and managing the expected long-term loss of jobs in the oil sector due to reduced global demand for fossil fuels fuels.