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Opportunity Issue 102

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).


WOMEN IN ENERGY IEA report charts the path to a sustainable future for Africa The International Energy Agency (IEA) has produced a report, Africa Energy Outlook 2022, which outlines the state of the energy sector on the continent and makes some far-reaching recommendations about the best way forward for the citizens of Africa. The Outlook presents a “Sustainable Africa Scenario” (SAS) in which Africa is able to provide power to its people while at the same time honouring pledges made with regard to climate change imperatives. The report does not suggest that it will be easy; far from it, it calls it “a formidable undertaking”. But it contains practical guidelines on how Africa might achieve those dual goals. What follows is a selection from the “Key findings” that accompanied the Outlook: Africa is already facing more severe climate change than most other parts of the world, despite bearing the least responsibility for the problem. With nearly one-fifth of the world’s population today, Africa accounts for less than 3% of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to date and has the lowest emissions per capita of any region. Affordable energy for all Africans is the immediate and absolute priority Universal access to affordable electricity, achieved by 2030 in the SAS, requires bringing connections to 90-million people a year, triple the rate of recent years. At present, 600-million people, or 43% of the total population, lack access to electricity, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. Countries such as Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda are on track for full access by 2030, offering success stories other countries can follow. The SAS detailed analysis shows that extending national grids is the least costly and most prudent option for almost 45% of those gaining access to 2030. Achieving universal access to clean cooking fuels and technologies by 2030 requires shifting 130-million people away from dirty cooking fuels each year. Today, 970-million Africans lack access to clean cooking. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is the leading solution in urban areas, but recent price spikes are making it unaffordable for 30-million people across Africa, pushing many to revert to traditional use of biomass. The improvement rates needed for universal clean cooking access by 2030 are unprecedented, but the benefits are huge: reducing premature deaths by over 500 000 a year by 2030, drastically cutting time spent gathering fuel and cooking, and allowing millions of women to pursue education, employment and civic involvement. The goal of universal access to modern energy calls for the investment of -billion per year. This is around 1% of global energy investment today, and similar to the cost of building just one large liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal. Africa Energy Outlook 2022 same share of modern energy use as today, with electricity generation from renewables out-competing it in most cases. More than 5 000-billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas resources have been discovered to date in Africa which have not yet been approved for development. These resources could provide an additional 90-bcm of gas a year by 2030, which may well be vital for the fertiliser, steel and cement industries and water desalination. Cumulative CO2 emissions from the use of these gas resources over the next 30 years would be around 10-gigatons. If these emissions were added to Africa’s cumulative total today, they would bring its share of global emissions to a mere 3.5%. Production of oil and gas remains important to African economic and social development, but the focus shifts to meeting domestic demand. Global efforts to accelerate the clean energy transition in the SAS risks dwindling export revenues for Africa’s oil and gas. Between now and 2030, Africa’s domestic demand for both oil and gas accounts for around two-thirds of the continent’s production. This puts greater emphasis on developing wellfunctioning infrastructure within Africa, such as storage and distribution infrastructure, to meet domestic demand for transport fuels and LPG. In parallel, African countries focus on strengthening energy efficiency policies, and expanding renewables and other clean energy technologies. World Energy Outlook Special Report Gas and oil production focuses on meeting Africa’s own demand this decade Africa’s industrialisation relies in part on expanding natural gas use. Natural gas demand in Africa increases in the SAS, but it maintains the 14 |

WOMEN IN ENERGY Women in African energy The IEA’s Africa Energy Outlook 2022 has a section on women and energy. This is an extract: Despite high rates of female participation in some Sub‐ Saharan African countries, women are more likely than men to work in the informal sector, where jobs are often less stable and pay lower wages, due to their more limited access to education, household and childcare responsibilities, and worries about safety when commuting to work. Women attempting to enter the workforce, including the energy sector, face numerous barriers such as gender stereotypes and bias, and lack of training, mentorship and networking. In Ghana, for example, the number of women graduating with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees is increasing, but not female employment in the electricity sector. As a result, women with STEM degrees and technical training certificates often end up working in unrelated fields, underutilising their skills. Overcoming obstacles to female employment in Africa’s energy sector would bring multiple benefits. All countries could raise their GDP considerably by increasing gender equality in employment. Studies show that companies with greater gender diversity in senior management positions perform better. Increasing women’s access to careers through internships and mentoring, as well as human resource policy reform in public utilities and private companies, would increase female economic empowerment, as well as improve energy sector performance. Several initiatives aim to increase female empowerment through energy access programmes in Africa, including the Clean Energy Ministerial, ENERGIA, ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Power Africa’s Women in Rwandan Energy, and SEforAll and Enel Foundation’s Open Africa Power programme. These initiatives provide networking, training in technical skills and apprenticeship opportunities to encourage women to build careers in the energy sector. In addition, a growing number of companies are recruiting, training and supporting female entrepreneurs and workers in the clean energy sector. Jaza Energy, a Tanzanian company, trains and hires all‐female local teams to operate a distributed network of solar-powered battery charging stations. Around 40% of the sales agents employed by WID Energy in Zambia, which distributes solar home systems, are women. These companies also achieve a larger reach by having female sales agents and staff, who are often better at convincing households and communities to adopt clean energy solutions and teaching how to operate and maintain solar home systems. Improved energy access and the use of clean energy also supports gender parity in other ways. At a household level, clean cooking reduces health risks related to indoor air pollution, particularly for women and children. Spending less time collecting firewood – a task that mostly falls to women – frees up time for other activities, including employment outside the home. Household lighting enables chores and homework to be done in the evening. Access to phones and other communication devices helps to increase access to information as well as to reduce the acceptability of domestic violence. Street lighting is also important for making walking or commuting safer for women, who are often less likely than men to have access to a private vehicle. Improved transportation options can help to improve daily commutes and shorten the time it takes to receive emergency healthcare. Credit: Shutterstock

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