Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), the African Climate Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, ClimateWorks Foundation, and the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA) launched the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative (AREMI) on Tuesday at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week to drive investment and mobilise action in African countries to scale up renewable energy manufacturing capabilities.
The new international initiative will help drive the financial, technical, and socioeconomic investments required to advance clean energy development and transition in Africa, with a remarkable 1.2 terawatts of energy potential, 14 million new jobs, and 6.4% growth in GDP available under a green transition scenario.
Africa, home to 60% of the world’s best solar resources, has the potential to become a global green manufacturing hub, with solar photovoltaics (PV) expected to increase to 650 gigawatts by 2050.
As the continent advances in energy development and transition, it is becoming increasingly important to establish local supply chains and talent to ensure that the socioeconomic benefits of renewable energy and sustainable development are distributed locally.
Through four key programmes, AREMI will focus on capacity building, knowledge transfer, policy dialogues, and advocacy, as well as enabling pilot projects that drive low-emission development and carbon neutrality in Africa.
AREMI will create a world-class business environment and drive market demand: Collaboration with African government officials to accelerate and strengthen green manufacturing policymaking through policy awareness, leadership development, and advocacy.
It will also develop Africa’s green manufacturing workforce by expanding training, employment, and career development opportunities for engineers and technicians in Africa through technical school support, online courses, and worker exchange.
Another key is for AREMI to attract green manufacturers to Africa by assisting in the development of granular business cases, the identification of optimal operating models, the support of tailored advocacy and policy negotiations, and the scaling of green capacity investment and best practice partnerships to provide mature green manufacturers with better access to consulting and financing services and the development of a robust green manufacturing ecosystem.
AREMI will also foster African green manufacturing projects and policies, including providing complete grant support for green manufacturing projects in Africa, from planning and financing to project operations and sales.
South-South cooperation is one of AREMI’s key strategic components, leveraging a timely and one-of-a-kind opportunity to increase energy capacity and production in Africa while also reducing the energy access deficit through international partnerships. Given similar development needs and policy pathways, Global South countries are natural partners for Africa, and many, such as China, India, and Asian countries, are already major green manufacturing players and investors, making them ideal partners for African countries.
AREMI will bring together governments from Africa and the Global South, as well as key decision-makers from the renewable energy industry, businesses, academia, and research institutions, to advocate for renewable energy as a critical anchor for both economic growth and sustainable development goals across the continent.
Along with the launch of AREMI, SEforALL released a new report titled Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing: Opportunity and Advancement, which was funded by the African Climate Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and ClimateWorks Foundation.
The report examines Africa’s renewable energy manufacturing landscape, identifies pathways to accelerate the development of a homegrown renewable energy industry, and provides a road map to help Africa bridge the gap and achieve a just, equitable, and green energy transition.
SEforALL’s analysis identifies an initial first wave of eight countries – Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Tunisia – with medium or high feasibility to localize solar or battery storage manufacturing capacities and build the tools and incentives to favorably increase investment opportunities, based on multiple sources, including an economic analysis from McKinsey & Company. The report also outlines existing financing barriers and policy areas where countries can take action to attract foreign investment.
According to Ghana’s Minister of Energy, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, developing Africa’s green manufacturing capabilities is one of the key strategies for fostering growth, creating decent job opportunities, and eradicating poverty while ensuring that Africa does not fall behind in the global energy transition agenda.
“I, therefore, urge my fellow Ministers and stakeholders to come up with bold and implementable economic models and solutions that will enable the realization of Africa’s green manufacturing aspirations,” said Matthew Opoku Prempeh.
Ending energy poverty, saving lives, and avoiding a larger energy crisis, according to Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy means investing in and scaling up sustainable and renewable development projects in Africa.
“That requires both public and private financing to drive renewable energy manufacturing capacity in African countries. With the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative, African countries will be able to shrink the energy gap, further economic growth, and enable a just and equitable energy transition,” he said.
Antha Williams, who leads environment programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies says, Africa has the potential to be a global energy leader and address the twin challenges of energy poverty and the climate crisis.”
“However, current clean energy investments in Africa are at an alarming low. Changing that requires new levels of collaboration to unlock the dollars needed to electrify and decarbonize Africa. The Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative will turbocharge new levels of cooperation to scale and boost green manufacturing capacity, create good jobs, and make renewable energy a key economic anchor in the continent and around the world.”
“Building green manufacturing capacity is key to rapidly scaling renewable energy in Africa,” said Helen Mountford, President and CEO of Climate Works Foundation.
“Many countries from the Global South are now leading the global renewable energy supply chain. Partnering with, and sharing lessons learned from renewable energy production efforts in China, India, Asian countries, and others, can help countries in Africa to build their own capacity and swiftly address roadblocks.”
This, according to Helen, can help them unlock significant investment and commercial collaboration in manufacturing and deployment, as well as accelerate domestic efforts to alleviate energy poverty.
ClimateWorks is pleased to collaborate with the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative in order to assist African countries in realising their vision of creating sustainable, thriving economies that benefit communities while addressing the climate crisis.”
According to Saliem Fakir, Executive Director of the African Climate Foundation, the legitimacy of climate investment can be measured by how far it seeks to ensure inclusivity while also addressing unemployment and poverty.
“By working with intergovernmental agencies, enterprises, financial institutions, and research institutions, the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative will capitalize on Africa’s growing economy and population while laying a solid foundation for sustainable economic growth and renewable energy production throughout the continent.”
“When it comes to addressing climate change, cooperation is key to fostering innovation,” said Mr. Li Junfeng, President of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA).
According to Li, climate change presents a common challenge for countries all over the world, but also an opportunity to work together to reduce emissions because when one country succeeds, the rest benefit, and the Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative provides a platform for public and private players to collaborate to share knowledge, technological advancements, and improve capacity to deliver a clean future in Africa and around the world.
“Home to the world’s youngest population, 70% of Africa’s population is under the age of 35 which amounts to 995 million persons,” said Jeanette M. Gitobu, Director of Women in Wind Global Leadership Program & Policy Advisor, Africa at the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
According to her, the inclusion of young Africans in addressing the twin challenges of climate change and energy poverty is critical to facilitating a people-centered energy transition.
“The Africa Renewable Energy Manufacturing Initiative will enable African countries to access the social-economic benefits of renewable energy thereby positioning the continent towards a carbon neutral pathway, while providing access to green job opportunities to Africa’s youth.”