Dr. Arron Singh

1. In your view how can stakeholders ensure the issue of energy transition and Paris agreement is
aligned for the benefit of African countries?

Ensuring a just transition will require putting people at the center of the transition process. It is necessary
for the stakeholders to take into consideration the development needs of RMCs - letting RMCs write their
own story on transition in line with their needs for energy access, affordability, and energy security as well
as their resource endowments; geopolitical influence; and the wider benefits to their economies through
local content, value chain domestication and intersectoral linkages.

As I often emphasize in other fora, although the word transition describes the global pathways to net-
zero carbon emissions, it may misrepresent such pathways for African countries, since most of them are
already in a situation of near net-zero, net-zero, or even net-negative. In addition, most African countries
fall under least developed countries’ category, and their populations linger in abject and multidimensional
poverty, including energy poverty - notwithstanding their huge natural resources’ endowments. As such, a
better representation of African countries’ situation is low carbon development, which highlights their
needs for development and poverty eradication in an environmentally responsible manner.

This takes us to the main criteria of well-performing energy systems and the strategies to ensure such by
each country. A well-performing energy system must obey the criteria of security, access, affordability, and
environmental sustainability. Security is ensured by domestic resources and cost-effective imports
strategies. The right policies and adequate investments are essential for energy access, affordability, and
environmental sustainability.

Energy security is gradually shifting from solely hydrocarbons supply security to consider critical minerals
and renewable energy resources. On the pathways to global transition, shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic
and the Russian-Ukraine crisis are reemphasizing the trade-off that countries make amongst security,
accessibility, affordability, and environmental sustainability to ensure good performance and stability of
their energy systems. During the pandemic, logistical challenges favored rapid development and acceptance
of renewables while the Russia-Ukraine crisis is favoring security, accessibility, and affordability at the
expense of environmental sustainability. Other regions are reopening coal power plants and are committing
to scale up investments in new gas developments in Africa to establish sustainable alternatives to Russia
supplies, for instance. The crisis is also strengthening the influence of Africa on the global energy scene as
Europe and other regions see in Africa a trusted partner for their energy independence from Russia and a
key player for balancing the global energy market.

As the Russia-Ukraine crisis revives the debate on energy security and influences the tradeoff amongst
energy types for ensuring well-performing energy systems, it puts to test the key determinants of energy
policies and geopolitics and expands the space within which geopolitical influences and equilibria are
moving. It reinforces the position of those who advocate for enough incentives to encourage a country rich
in natural gas for instance, to forego its exploitation and rely only on renewables, whereas nature-based
solutions, carbon capture storage and use (CCSU) as well as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage
(BECCS) can help ensuring neutrality or negativity in the process. This holds also for other resources
including coal and oil.

Given the foregoing, it will take a global effort from all key stakeholders and firm commitments starting
with governments, regional and global development finance institutions (DFI) and multilateral and bilateral
development organizations (MDO-BDO), private sector and investors, as well as the African diaspora to
ensure that global energy transition and Paris Agreements align with African countries’ development goals
and aspirations. Governments in African countries must provide the right policies and right environment
for domestic and foreign investments to flow in; human capital to be developed; technology to be
developed, acquired, and domesticated; and appropriate strategies to be put in place to use resources first
for their domestic and regional development, materialized through value chain domestication and
regionalization with investment in cross-border infrastructure and value chains. DFI, MDO-BDO and others
must commit to support governments’ policies and strategies and their alignment with international policies
and directives. This comes with important challenges since value chain domestication strategies as well as
technology and human capital development policies in African countries may compete with other countries’
natural resources supply security and technology commercialization objectives.

In short, stakeholders should ensure that global transition translates into sustainable development of African
countries. Transition should not be or represent only changing from fossil primary energies to renewable
primary energies, but it should be accompanied by intended and thorough structural transformation that
enhances domestic resources mobilization, local financial systems, and stronger local participation. We
should avoid embarking on other pathways to natural resources curse.

This text represents the opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of any Development
Finance Institution.