During a recent "Africa Roundtable," meeting, politics, business, and civil society experts discussed strategies for achieving a just energy transition on the African continent. They also talked about strengthening the resilience of countries in the face of food insecurity.
The talks — entitled "Europe and Africa, together for a just energy transition" — were head in the capital of Senegal, Dakar. DW was the media partner for the event — it was a first on the African continent.
While Europe is working on its Green Deal, many African countries still face challenges with electrification. Nearly half of the sub-Saharan region (which has a population of approximately 600 million) has no access to electricity.
Energy experts said that African countries would only be able to achieve the transition towards a sustainable economy, which at the same time conserves the environment, if they had access to new production technologies, such as electric batteries, solar panels, or wind turbines.
Africa's energy paradox
"The paradox is that the continent has strong underexploited potential for energy production, but lacks the necessary technologies for their use," Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, head of the climate change and green growth department at the African Development Bank (AfDB), told DW.
"During this roundtable, Europeans and Africans were able to identify how to move forward concretely on the issue," he added.
During the recent COP27 climate talks in Egypt, developing countries once again insisted on technology transfer, which they said has been slow to materialize.
Call to strengthen dialogue and partnerships
"To achieve this, we are convinced that we must have dialogue and strengthen partnerships to find solutions," Ingrid Hamm, co-founder of the Global Perspectives Initiative (GPI) and initiator of the Africa Roundtable, said.
"That is what we want, by organizing this meeting in Dakar after COP27," she told DW.
In a country like Senegal in West Africa, the question of how to reconcile the desire to strengthen energy independence, the awareness raised by the ecological crisis, and the desire to contribute to a just energy transition is acute.
Oulimata Sarr, Senegal's minister of economy, planning and cooperation, told DW that the theme of the roundtable came at "the right time" and was "in line with the geopolitical and economic issues of our time."
Seizing the opportunity
"We have an opportunity here to remind the international community of the need for Africa to lead a just and equitable energy transition," Sarr added.
Senegal — which wants to exploit its oil more — has announced that it will start exporting gas next year.
Sarr said that this would allow the country to "take advantage of its natural resources for its industrialization needs and sustainable job creation, in line with its economic development plan."
Aissatou Sophie Gladima, Senegal's minister of petroleum and energy, explained that the plan was to finance the energy transition through fossil fuels.
Some environmental activists have criticiized what they see as a contradiction.
Angela Merkel: Africa has potential
In a written message addressed to the roundtable participants, former German Chancellor Angela Merkelhighlighted Africa's enormous potential. She also said that the stability of Africa was imperative for Europe's survival.
"Security, stability and sustainable economic development on our neighboring continent are more important than ever for Germany and for Europe," Merkel said, adding that this was crucial, especially in a world where all areas of our lives are affected by increasingly global interconnectedness.
Edited by: Chrispin Mwakideu