One of the most urgent needs of the African continent is having an adequate energy supply. During the course of my travels to African countries over the last decade, I have often experienced first-hand the local challenges over electricity and power shortages. This is one of the many paradoxes of Africa.
The continent has immense energy potential: its great rivers can provide hydro power to millions and the sunlight available just in the Sahara desert is sufficient to light up most of the world; millions of Africans, however have no access to power and use biomass for cooking or gas generators to bring electricity to their homes and businesses.
Power is deficient, yet so desperately needed there, for progress and economic development. As Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the 60 billion USD package for African economies at this month’s FOCAC summit, one of the 8 major initiatives of Chinese assistance is green energy.
China is also the right country to undertake that tremendous challenge. A couple of year ago the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration in Beijing issued the “Energy Technology Revolution Innovation Action Plan (2016-2030).”
This initiative is revolutionizing new energy technologies and one of its focal points is investment in Africa - one of the most important energy resource regions of the world. Beijing realizes that close ties with Africa will strengthen China’s energy security; meanwhile African countries will receive invaluable assistance toward their economic rise. As in other areas this is shaping up as a win-win cooperation.
On September 13, I participated in a forum organized by the China-Africa Renewable Energy Cooperation and Innovation Alliance (CARECIA), which took place at the V-Continent Hotel in Beijing.
CARECIA is a national non-profit organization organized last year in Beijing by several social groups under the patronage of China Industry University Research Institute. The Alliance’s members currently include 30 state-owned and private enterprises and their number is increasing.
Their main objectives are to manage and facilitate needed investments in the construction, capacity, and/or transfer of renewable energy facilities to African countries; and to also expand the market potential of China, which has become the largest builder of clean energy power stations around the globe.
Since its establishment CARECIA has participated in forums on climate change and renewable energy in China, Germany, Rwanda, and South Africa. The Alliance has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with six African countries: Benin, Ghana, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, and Tanzania.
The network of CARECIA is growing and the group is becoming an important player in solving the energy problems of Africa while protecting the environment in view of the global climate crisis.
The forum was well-organized and included several hundred delegates representing key-stakeholders in the China-Africa Clean Energy Partnership – Chinese strategic investors, African governments, social organizations, and international media.
Mr. Shi Dinghuan, Founder of CARECIA and Former State Councilor, opened the forum and addressed the delegates lifting up the challenges to the environment caused by global climate changes. He reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to assist African countries in increasing their access to electricity and thus improve people’s living standards.
Two other opening speeches were given by Ms. Ding Yuxian, Executive Secretary-General of the China Industry University Research Institute Collaboration Association, and Mr. Wang Xiaoyong, Secretary-General of China-Africa Business Council. They emphasized the importance of the forum from business, environmental, and development perspectives.
Then several African representatives spoke on raising awareness of their respective countries’ potential and need for investment in the clean energy sector: Dr. Elia Kaiyanmo, Ambassador of Namibia, invited Chinese business and social groups to visit his country and lend a hand in local economic development.
Thierno Maadjou, political councilor of Guinea spoke of the tremendous investment needs and opportunities in his homeland. Shuab Boqor Osman, Advisor of Somaliland Investment Promotion in China, spoke of the green energy project opportunities in Somaliland. Athiei Ajuong from the South Sudan-China Friendship Association gave an excellent overview of opportunities his country has to offer for investment in green energy.
Mr. Sahraoui Laid, head of the Renewable Energy Committee of the African Chamber of Commerce gave a detailed analysis of the African renewable energy market. Dr. Liang Caihao spoke on the Global Energy Interconnectedness Initiative undertaken by the world’s leading economies. Several major companies presented their work and discussed potential investments in Africa’s green energy sector and their financial viability.
The forum was concluded with an official dinner accompanied by cultural performances. This gave opportunity for the guests to connect with each other and discuss potential business opportunities together. The meeting was a successful step in moving this important initiative forward, which could potentially improve the economic conditions of millions in Africa while protecting the continent’s beautiful environment.