Africa’s Green Economy Summit: Day 1 highlights
“No one government, organisation, or individual will ever solve the problem of climate change and environmental damage”
Cocreating, public and private partnerships, implementation and enabling policies are needed to enable green economy projects to develop and flourish. This was the main message from the first day’s sessions at the inaugural Africa’s Green Economy Summit in Cape Town on Wednesday. The 2-day summit is part of the E-Fest Cape Town that will culminate in the Formula E 2023 Cape Town E-Prix race on Saturday, 25 February 2023. With some 80 expert speakers in the jam-packed programme, Africa’s Green Economy Summit brings together financiers, project developers, and government representatives, highlighting investment prospects that exist across the continent in the fields of green hydrogen, EVs, energy storage, solar, hydro and wind energy, infrastructure development, urban sustainability as well as manufacturing. Go Green Africa During the opening session, Iain Banner, co-founder of E Movement, said he believed Africa’s biggest asset is not its people or minerals but its sun exposure. “It’s an incredibly powerful resource that we’re starting to understand how to harness through renewable energy,” said Banner. He announced the launch of Go Green Africa, a collaborative effort to accelerate Africa’s just energy transition. Banner stressed that no one government, organisation, or individual will ever solve the problem of climate change and environmental damage. He mentioned that the founding partner, Eskom, is working with World Bank Funding on one of Africa's largest battery energy storage projects, highlighting the innovative ways the continent will collaboratively solve its energy access and security problems. Gautrain boss warns about congestion William Dachs, the CEO of Gautrain Management Agency (GMA), who are the platinum sponsors of the event, warned that while he was “not arguing against a shift towards EVs or hydrogen-based fuel technologies, the real challenge lies outside these doors, on the N1 a few hundred meters away and the N2 a few kilometers away and on countless urban roads in South Africa and in Africa.” He said the congestion on the roads was a challenge that was caused by “the massive and regressive move away from rail-based passenger transport to road-based modes like private cars and minibus taxis.”
He continued to say that South Africa has a great National Rail Policy, and that action was needed, and that part of that action was accelerated planning of and investment in urban rail systems. “If the provinces and cities of this country are now having to face up to and help tackle the national problem of electricity supply, why on earth will we not have to do exactly the same in the rail sector? Issues like better urban planning, sensible ways of getting private sector participation into transport have got to be on the agenda.”
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde stated that he “can’t wait for the day that we have a CapeTrain similar to Gautrain. We don’t want congestion. We want proper, reliable public transport. In this region, we take that very, very seriously.” Therefore, from April, the Western Cape government will have a new, separate Department of Infrastructure and Department of Mobility.
Cape Town increases feed-in-tariff
The City of Cape Town will grant distributed energy providers a revenue increase. The city’s Executive Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis announced during the opening session of the inaugural Africa’s Green Economy Summit, “as of June, we will increase the rate to R1.12 per KWh for every KWh sold back to city.” He added: “We’ve had a feed-in-tariff in Cape Town since 2014, but never allowed residents to be net generators of power. Last year we changed that and said now you can be a net generator of power. A month ago, we made a second big policy change, we said we will pay you in cash for that excess.”
Hill-Lewis added that the City of Cape Town would, in three weeks’ time, put out a tender for 500MW of dispatchable power. “We want to see big, healthy competitive bids from the market to provide that in record time so we can be the first city in SA to get rid of loadshedding.”
Risky perception of Africa
“It is widely alleged, and almost taken for granted, that Africa is a risky investment destination. As a consequence, investment flows into our continent have been affected,” said H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union’s Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy.
However, she stated that this notion and the corresponding actions are not always backed up by facts. “Africa’s default rates are among the lowest in the world.” For example, Moody’s Analytics found that “Africa’s default rate on infrastructure loans is 1.9%."
“Implement, implement, implement”
“Three words: implement, implement, implement. Let’s not let perfect be the enemy of good,” stated Mandy Rambharos, formerly of Eskom’s Just Energy Transition Office and currently the Vice-President: Global Climate Cooperation, Environmental Defence Fund in the USA, during a panel discussion on Accelerating Green Investment in Africa.
She said regarding the problems with the implementation of the South African Just Energy Transition Plan: “It has to be collaborative, government, inclusive with civil society, communities, and finance. The most important thing is enabling policy; that is why so many projects fail in South Africa, because the policies are debilitating.”
This discussion was led by the South African-born World Bank sustainability expert, John Roome, currently the South Asia Regional Director of Sustainable Development for the organisation. “Africa has huge potential,” Roome stated, “but we are not delivering on it. Africa is not getting the investment it needs in order to take this opportunity. Three things give me hope. One is the falling costs of concentrated solar polar.” Second, is the combination of technology innovation and business innovation on the continent, such as Safaricom’s mobile payment system linked to solar panels. “And then,” Roome continued, “what gives me a huge amount of hope, is the large number of small-scale African start-ups.”
“In the energy environment, Africa cannot industrialise off the back of renewable energies alone” was the opinion of Hendrik Malan, Partner and Africa CEO at Frost & Sullivan yesterday during a presentation on infrastructure opportunities in Africa. He explained: “The infrastructure required to harvest the technology and store it, that is not free, and quite expensive compared to what is available. Our grids at this stage need to be balanced with some sort of baseload. We are not going to meet our Africa 2063 goals or SDGs if we focus purely on renewable energy, but we can develop these resources in parallel to each other.”
“Uber has seen the light”
The Uber company will become a zero emissions platform globally by 2040, says Kagiso Khaole, the general manager of Uber Southern Africa. Speaking at Africa’s Green Economy Summit on Wednesday, Khaole said: “At Uber, we’ve seen the light. We will do everything in our power to change the situation. Our climate is changing and the way we move is changing. South Africa is one of the highest emitters in the world. Innovation is one tool.” He said that Uber is already on track to have zero emissions in the US and Canada by 2030. This year, the company is celebrating a decade of being in business on the continent. “At the time, it was difficult to believe that it would work,” says the Uber boss, “and it feels the same with electric vehicles.” The summit continues until Thursday, 24 February at the Century City Conference Centre. Website: www.greeneconomysummit.com YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvhl1gAhC40NUC0P10xeUng LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/africas-green-economy-summit/
Issued by Africa’s Green Economy Summit.
Media: Annemarie Roodbol
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Africa’s Green Economy Summit is organised in partnership with E-Movement and Bellcrescent Partners by VUKA Group, which has more than 20 years’ experience in serving the business community across Africa. Formerly known as Clarion Events Africa, a leading Cape Town-based and multi-award-winning organiser of exhibitions, conferences and digital events in the infrastructure, energy, mining, mobility, ecommerce and CX sectors, VUKA is an independent B-BBEE compliant company, adapted to the unique conditions of Africa. Other well-known events by VUKA Group include Enlit Africa, DRC Mining Week, Nigeria Mining Week, DRC-Africa Battery Metals Forum, Smarter Mobility Africa, ECOM and CEM Africa.