Renewable energy, mini-grids are solutions to energy poverty, says Osinbajo at Africa Climate Summit, urges urgency

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, where he joined others to moderate a session on Carbons Markets for the Global South, with discussions centering on strategies to accelerate Africa's carbon credit supply from 2% to 40% by 2030, at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, has said that using renewable energy systems and mini-grids can provide a reliable and affordable solution to Africa’s energy poverty problem.

The immediate past Vice President who is also Global Advisor at Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, added that GEAPP and himself are committed to reducing the cost of deploying such solutions alongside providing clean, reliable and affordable power in the continent.

Osinbajo spoke today during a side event organised by GEAPP, the World Bank and Africa Minigrid Developers Association, AMDA tagged “Powering Prosperity in Africa by Scaling DREs and Minigrids” at the Africa Climate Summit taking place in Nairobi Kenya.

DREs are Distributed renewable energy systems (stand-alone and off-grid systems as well as mini-grids) that generate and distribute energy independently of a centralised electricity grid.

Prof. Osinbajo who gave the opening remarks noted that the “objective is clear: we are here to discuss how to accelerate the deployment of sustainable minigrids in Africa to power our people’s lives and livelihoods, ultimately fostering prosperity on our continent.

“Globally, nearly 8 out of 10 people without electricity live in Africa. At the current rate of progress, 595 million Africans will remain unconnected in 2030. These numbers underscore the urgency of our mission.”

He went on to explain the advantages of adopting DREs and Minigrids, as a way of complementing traditional grids. His words: “Distributed Renewables Energy systems, DREs, and Minigrids offer a faster, more cost-effective solution.

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“According to the World Bank, unleashing the potential of mini-grids can improve the lives of approximately 500 million people, reduce carbon emissions by 1.2 gigatons, and create 2 million jobs globally. In Nigeria, where I’ve witnessed first-hand, mini-grids have significantly improved livelihoods.”

Prof. Osinbajo also made the point of highlighting some of the challenges of using DREs and mini-grids which include financing, sustainable business models and compelling value propositions. He stated that “powering 380 million people in Africa through mini-grids by 2030 requires significant investment—$91 billion. At the current pace, we’re far from reaching this goal.

“That’s the challenge we face as a sector, and we cannot afford to fail. We must accelerate our efforts and do things differently.”

He added further that “one significant barrier is the lack of sustainable business models and a compelling value proposition. This is where the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, GEAPP and our partners come in. We believe in the potential of DREs and mini-grids to offer a viable solution, and we’re committed to reducing the cost of deploying them and providing clean, reliable, and affordable power.”

Speaking about GEAPP’s ambition in mitigating the challenges, the immediate past Vice President affirmed that the Organisation seeks to “demonstrate that mini-grids can outcompete generators, avoid 1.2 gigatons of CO2 emissions, stimulate a $120 billion investment, and generate a $15 billion annual revenue stream. So far, we’ve invested over $100 million in the mini-grid sector since our launch at COP26.

“But we can’t do this alone. We need a coordinated effort involving governments, the private sector, and development partners. We must support governments in building enabling environments, align financing, and help the private sector develop scalable projects.”

Also, on the back of the Africa Climate Summit, Prof. Osinbajo met with inaugural members of fellowships including Eisenhower Fellowships, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Fellowships, Obama Foundation Leaders, Mandela Washington Fellowships, and Aspen New Voices Fellowship, among others.

During the panel discussion on ‘Is the Climate Crisis a Leadership Crisis?’ he underscored the vital point that amidst the powerful voices of leadership, the climate crisis transcends mere leadership.

He noted that it’s about comprehending the intricate challenges we face, acknowledging that the diverse fellowship gathering underscores the urgency to amplify our voices and actions. Then the former VP stressed the need to not only address leadership but also the intricate layers of change necessary to confront and overcome this defining challenge.