Judi W. Wakhungu, Renewable Energies – Chances and Risks from an African Perspective, 19 October, 7pm

International Conference

“Paradoxes of Sustainability – How socially equitable are ‚green‘ technologies really?”

Keynote Speech “Renewable Energies – Chances and Risks from an African Perspective”

Prof. Judi W. Wakhungu, Executive Director of the African Center for Technology Studies (ACTS) in Nairobi (Kenya)

While access to energy in Africa is essential for the reduction of poverty as well as promotion of social and economic growth, Africa continues to face critical challenges related to its energy sector. Provision of health services, education, communication technologies, industrialization, agricultural improvement and expansion of municipal water systems all require abundant, reliable, and cost-effective energy access. Although in many ways fossil fuels provide a simple, easy to use energy source that powered the industrialization of most modern nations, the issues associated with the widespread use of fossil fuels are now numerous global setback ranging from economic through social to environmental problems. 
The application of renewable energy technology has the potential to alleviate many of the problems that face Africans every day, especially if done so in a sustainable manner that prioritizes human and environmental rights. While a great number of projects are currently underway aimed at electrifying the rural population either through grid or off-grid, there exist a lot of challenges hindering this move. Decentralized generation using renewable energy systems is the only practical solution.
Biomass will remain one of the primary sources for meeting energy needs in most African households. Efficient use of biomass could see reduction in resource pressures on the fuel wood supply, reduced health impacts resulting from lower levels of indoor air pollution, reduced cooking time, reduced time spent gathering fuel and further reducing emissions. However, electricity use is gaining momentum especially in rural towns, powered by introduction of rural electrification programs in most countries. Due to this increasing demand for electricity across the continent, there is urgent need to adopt low carbon generation technologies, by use of renewable sources rather than fossil fuel.
This paper hopes to outline some of the benefits that African nations could enjoy if they shift from conventional energy sources to renewable energy sources. There is also global concern that African nations might become victims of resource exploitation from the North. This paper discusses mechanisms that need to be put in place so as to avoid or minimize such scenarios.  


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