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An Energy Crisis in Africa Will Not Fix the Climate Crisis

An Energy Crisis in Africa Will Not Fix the Climate Crisis

A view of yellow canola fields

As old as civilization itself, dire warnings about the end of the world exist. Each year, the countdown continues. United NationsClimate Change Conference (COP), they increase in volume and intensity. Recent developments have seen senior United Nations officials. raised the alarm“World conflict and chaos” mass migrations and institutional collapseIf greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, it will be very difficult to keep them under control.

Humanity has a responsibility to address these dangers. We must not act too quickly because of the seriousness of these dangers. It is a painful truth that the energy solutions proposed by those who are most eager to address climate crisis are fuel for the instability. This is evident in Africa more than anywhere else.

Access to reliable, low-cost energy is a major concern for today’s 1.3billion Africans. Estimated to increase to 2.5 billion by 2050—by 2100 Nigeria alone is projected to have the second largest population on the planet—this “great doubling” (for Nigeria, quadrupling) has the right to more dependable electricity than their forebears.

Without more and stable power, we can’t build the factories that transform Africa from an extractive-driven, low-job economy to a middle-income, high-employment continent. Children cannot learn more effectively by candlelight than they can by using a battery light. The Africa of tomorrow, like the Africa of today cannot progress using intermittent energy production.

In our rush to address climate issues and to impress western investors and aid agencies, we rush to install the least reliable energy sources. Back-up diesel generators and batteries are used to power solar and wind, which are the most popular modern energy technologies.

It is also not obvious that the global rush to buy electric cars could lead to a new global race for lithium batteries, replacing the scramble for fossil fuels of the past century. This could threaten geopolitical stability in areas where there are large deposits, like Africa. This makes economic migrations, which the U.N. warned about, more likely. It is important to consider whether our rush to end fossil fuel use is as smart as it sounds.

A view of yellow canola fields
A view of yellow fields of canola, wind-turbines, and snowy mountains near Ceres (180 km from Cape Town).
RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images

There is no one “green” solution that will solve the environmental problems in Africa or anywhere else on the planet. But, there are many that can be used to help fuel the hope for more wealth and progress for the 1 billion additional African citizens.

But there are certain things we can and must do—starting with transitioning to cleaner, but consistent, energy production. Carbon capture and the conversion to biomass of heavy fuel oil and coal can help make fossil fuel power generation sustainable. We can introduce new technologies such as mini-hydro power plantsThese can be used to generate power in shallow waterways, without affecting the aquatic life that sustains local communities.

You can also invest in nucleus. Although it is not renewable, it is carbon-neutral and can produce baseload electricity. This electricity can be used to sustain economic progress. NigeriaOne of the few African countries looking into nuclear power is Nigeria. research reactorAlready operational

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We can also learn a lot from our European and American friends who don’t always follow the example they set. We call upon them to lift the moratorium they have placed on fossil fuel investments in Africa. Nigeria has pledged to eliminate illegal gas flaring by 2030—a by-product of our oil industry—and harness it for electricity production. It is possible that our plan to eliminate Nigeria’s single largest contribution to global greenhouse emissions could be delayed without it. But there are no restrictions on the West’s investment in natural gas power, which is considered a source of transitional energy.

There is a deal that can be reached at COP26. However, it will not be possible without the cooperation of the nations from Africa. We hear climate warnings. They are our reality. But, no one has the right not to acknowledge the progress of our continent. We run the risk of trying fix the climate crisis by introducing an energy crisis if the developed world doesn’t wake up.

Nigeria’s president is Muhammadu Buhari.

These views are solely the author’s.

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