The global conversation on decarbonisation and a just energy transition has gained momentum, with Africa at the forefront of the discussion. The continent faces the challenge of addressing energy poverty while accommodating a rapidly growing population.

CA Mining took part at the African Mining Indaba this year, where the conversation centred around the Just Energy Transition and how Africa can facilitate such change responsibly and ethically. This article explores the ongoing debate, raised at the key note speeches at the African Mining Indaba 2024, on whether Africa should opt for a rapid exit from fossil fuels or pursue a gradual shift, considering the unique circumstances and challenges the region faces

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to over 600 million people without access to electricity and nearly 900 million lacking access to clean cooking fuels. Despite these challenges, Africa possesses abundant clean energy sources, such as sunlight and wind, capable of powering all homes and industries in the continent. The African Union’s (AU) initiative, outlined in the African Common Position on Energy Access and Just Energy Transition, advocates for an inclusive approach, emphasising a gradual shift from conventional to renewable energy sources to meet growing demands.

While the AU’s position leans towards a balanced approach, environmentalists argue for an immediate transition to renewable energy. The transition to clean and renewable energy has the potential to create numerous jobs in Africa, improve public health, and enhance overall well-being. However, substantial investments, estimated at USD 55 billion annually by 2030, are needed to achieve universal energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa.

A counter perspective suggests that a complete and immediate transition may harm economies heavily dependent on fossil fuels, such as Angola and Nigeria. Advocates for a hybrid model, combining renewable and non-renewable sources, argue that this approach ensures energy security and drives industrialisation while working towards a sustainable future. Striking a balance is deemed crucial for achieving a just energy transition that considers both economic development and environmental sustainability.

The just energy transition has faced criticism for neglecting front-line communities and instances of human rights violations during renewable energy projects. Reports reveal concerns about land rights infringement, assaults on human rights defenders, and worker abuses. The need to embed respect for human rights into business models is highlighted to ensure a fair and just transition.

As Africa strives for a just transition, key factors emerge as critical for success. These include mobilizing financial resources, enhancing regional integration, bolstering capacity and skills, and harmonizing policies for effective technology transfer. Companies and investors are urged to contribute to a fast and fair energy transition by embedding human rights policies and due diligence across their value chains.

The renewable energy division of CA Mining, CA Energy, is fully prepared and clued in, in order to support the Just Energy Transition in Africa. CA Energy recruitment experts specialise in sourcing top talent for Renewable Energy Jobs in Africa. With almost two decades of experience within the mining and energy industries in Africa, CA Energy has the knowledge pool and skills to help facilitate a harmonious transition within the market. Insights, CA Mining’s market intelligence division, has partnered with CA Energy to provide annual compensation reports which serve to empower the professionals within the renewable energy sector in South Africa. We don’t only have the experience to help support the Just Energy Transition, we also have the tools.

Africa stands at a crossroad in its pursuit of a just energy transition. Balancing the need for economic development with environmental sustainability is crucial. As the continent grapples with the challenges of energy poverty, it is imperative to find a path that ensures a fair transition, leaving no one behind and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of universal energy access by 2030.

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