By Lin Zihan
Energy shortage has long hindered the social and economic development of Africa. In particular, power supply is a major bottleneck delaying the continent’s industrialization.
According to World Bank statistics, 51.6 percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa did not have access to electricity in 2020, and an estimated 660 million people in the world would lack access in 2030, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
To vigorously develop clean energy and build a modern energy system is an inevitable choice for Africa as it is facing the dual challenges of industrialization and low-carbon transition.
As a staunch supporter and important partner of Africa on the path of green development, China has implemented over 100 clean energy and green development projects under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), to support African countries in the better use of solar, water, wind, methane, and other clean energy resources and contribute to the sustainable development of Africa.
Chinese constructors have built a 50MW solar power farm in Garissa, Kenya, the largest of its kind in East Africa. The plant, which was put into operation in 2019, produces over 76 million kWh of electricity each year on average, supplying power for over 380,000 people from 70,000 families and effectively relieving the pressure of power shortage in the African country.
The De Aar wind farm in Northern Cape, South Africa, which went into operation in 2017, is the first wind power project in Africa that was invested, constructed and operated by China. The wind farm generates 760 million kWh of clean electricity each year, which is equal to the power produced by burning 215,800 tons of standard coal and reducing emission of 619,900 tons of carbon dioxide. While contributing to South Africa’s low-carbon transition, the wind farm also creates jobs for the local community and drives the development of surrounding neighborhoods.
Apart from major clean energy projects, medium- and small-sized new energy power generation and storage projects funded by China are also sprouting across Africa.
A China-aided maintenance program for solar-powered street lamps in Central African Republic kicked off in Bangui, capital of the African country on April 8. The program provided the country with 100 sets of spare street lamps and also repaired damaged lampposts. It is a follow-up to a 2016 aid program in which China erected 200 street lamps for the main roads in Bangui, which was an outcome of the 10 major cooperation plans announced at the 2015 FOCAC Johannesburg Summit.
It’s good to feed a man fish, but better to teach him to fish. The fund, technology and knowledge brought by China to Africa has further accelerated the green transition of the continent. On Feb. 18 this year, the 10th Luban Workshop, a Chinese-aided skill and technology training project, was launched in Madagascar. The project, implemented since 2018, has trained a batch of technical talents for African countries.
In recent years, both China and Africa have taken new energy and green development as a focus of their cooperation.
African Union’s Agenda 2063 aims to enhance the abilities to respond to climate change and achieve sustainable development, and has launched a series of flagship projects of new energy. Many African countries also rolled out relevant policies.
Last November, China issued a white paper titled “China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals,” stressing that it will strengthen exchanges and cooperation with Africa on climate change, clean energy, and other ecological and environmental fields.
In the run-up to the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC, China and Africa jointly prepared the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035, which proposed a new model for common eco-development of China and Africa by transforming to clean and low-carbon energy cooperation. The two sides also signed a declaration on climate change cooperation.
Clean energy is a new common ground and a new area of growth for China-Africa cooperation. As the Belt and Road Initiative goes deeper and the FOCAC keeps releasing its potential, China and Africa will continue expanding their clean energy cooperation, innovating cooperation models and enriching the cooperation, so as to realize the vision of a green Africa.