Over the last couple of months, there have been significant events that raised valid questions around the impact of shifting weather patterns and climate change on the African continent. On January 24th 2021 tropical Cyclone Eloise landed in South Africa sweeping through large parts of the region, bringing heavy rainfall and strong winds, in Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa.
According to OCHA 20 May 2021, part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies, Eloise killed at least 12 people (One in Madagascar and 11 in Mozambique) and affected more than 467,000 people across the region, including 2,800 in Madagascar, 441,690 in Mozambique, 3,200 in South Africa and 20,270 in Zimbabwe. Mozambique’s central provinces, which were still recovering from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai in 2019, were hardest-hit by Tropical Cyclone Eloise.
Key economic sectors including agriculture, roads, dams, and other infrastructure were the worst affected by climate change through disruptions to productivity according to the new Global Climate Index 2021 released by Germanwatch.This has placed extra economic pressures on local economies as already strained governments and development partners have to quickly provide for emergency funding to help rebuild destroyed infrastructure and respond to the immediate needs of affected citizens. According to the World Bank, Mozambique was the country most affected by climate change after it took a 12.6% GDP knock on its economy, and suffered $4.9 billion losses in monetary terms from the impacts of climate change that resulted in the deaths of 700 Mozambicans.
Of course, there are huge debates around the causes of climate change. Whatever side of the debate you’re in, it is undeniable that African countries are experiencing a temperature rise on average 1°C more than other parts of the world, as reported by 2021 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. On the economic side of other African countries, studies conducted by weADAPT show economic impacts of weather related extremes and the costs of these to the growth and development in a country like Kenya are already significant. Extreme flood and drought events are estimated to reduce long-term growth in Kenya by about 2.4% of GDP per annum. This needs to be met with a strong response. Several governments on the continent are spending between 2 and 9% of GDP on climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives but the BIG question is: is this enough?
Over and above, this is the time properly trained local Solar Developers are essential to maximize the impact of this important work. How will solar developers mitigate climate change? By developing and utilising solar to generate power, which will greatly reduce the emissions of CO2 by decreasing the demand for fossil fuels. This will minimise greenhouse gas emissions and can reduce our carbon footprint. The local developer plays a vital role in response to societal challenges, providing access to sustainable solutions which will help people adapt to climate change and simultaneously address energy deficiencies. The local developer is part of the backbone in this chain.
In what sense? “First communication: when a project is built, that’s not the end of it. You need somebody on ground who has to make sure the community where this project is built or the region where this project is built understands the benefits of building a solar park. You need to communicate across stakeholders, you need someone who speaks the language of the people, who communicates with the government agencies, to communicate with the local community, to make sure things are right. Local developers are the only people, based on the advantage they enjoy of being locals to do this,” said Belsham Besong – Business Manager EMEA Risen Energy Co.
Developers in partnership with engineers, will help to provide life-saving support to the communities hardest hit by extreme weather patterns, such as floods or droughts, by improving infrastructure and developing solar technologies to assist in climate change mitigation. For off-grid communities who use dirty fossil fuels for their daily home activities, and C&I businesses that are subject to frequent power outages and are synonymous with diesel backup generators, developers and engineers will design solar energy electricity that will improve reliability, cut down costs between 8-30%, improve livelihoods and help to build more sustainable societies.
For example Renewables in Africa (RiA) a clean energy engineering company, helps businesses go green and lower their energy costs. Renewables in Africa will work with your organization to conduct an assessment to understand your current energy profile, define your organization’s clean energy objectives, design a solar system that will meet your energy needs and goals, and evaluate different financing and service based options for making the transition. As developers, Renewables in Africa are responsible for all aspects of solar energy project development, including working closely with engineering, finance and commercial teams when a project moves successfully to the ‘pre construction’ phase; and acting as lead project sponsor for the successful financing and construction of the project.
Unfortunately, like a number of continents in the world, there is still unemployment amongst graduates who are not fully equipped to take professional roles. This concern is being addressed by Renewables in Africa, with climate change mitigation in mind. RiA is helping build an army of solar developers across the continent through it’s solar masterclass. The solar masterclass is a virtual training program, strategically developed by RiA, in partnership with mentors and best experts in the industry, with an aim of ensuring that the aspiring young energy professionals across Africa are equipped with necessary skills to become established industry players who develop viable large scale solar projects which attracts investors, and even get the project started.
It’s therefore vital that African countries continue to develop with the suitable interventions for the needed perseverance. There is also no doubt that being on the frontline of climate adaptation initiatives will provide distinctive awareness that will help other parts of the globe. Expanding African-based solar developing expertise is therefore very important to improving the entire world’s safeguarding against the ever escalating menace of climate change.
Oluoch Were is the Regional Director, Kenya and East Africa, supporting the growth of Renewables in Africa (RiA) in East and Central Africa. Oluoch has dedicated his work to developing sustainable solutions for businesses across the continent. Oluoch is also involved in regular speaking engagements at various conferences and webinars on renewable energy, climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives.