MEA Energy Week Day 2 Summary

The African perspective and financing and collaboration 

Tuesday, 28 June, 2022

On Day 2 of the MEA Energy Week, speakers agreed that current geopolitical issues and supply chain disruptions may be creating short-term roll-backs of recent global renewable energy transition gains, but there is still clearly “only one way forward” towards a future where the renewable energy transition is overwhelmingly supported, economically, politically and socially. “Indeed, we now have something like 70% of global GDP committed to decarbonizing by mid-century (2050) and it includes countries and companies. That’s where we’re headed in the long-term, but of course the question is what the short- to mid-term holds,” said Ana Rovzar, head of International Partnerships at the RES4Africa Foundation. 


Leveraging Finance

Echoing the sentiment of his co-panelists’, that the long-term future was bright for the energy transition, Tobias Bischof Niemz, Africa Managing Director of Enertrag, said: “The energy trilemma really does not exist anymore - in the current global context, green energy is clearly becoming the most affordable, sustainable, and secure energy choice for the future.” Bruce Johnson, Associate Director of Structured Finance, Treasury and Insurance at Masdar in Abu Dhabi, said he believed government-to-government collaboration on some of the world’s first big green energy projects had created the necessary runway for the private sector to now take the global lead on the energy transition. Although in the long-term, energy transition financing is still evolving, Shada El Borno of Standard Chartered said “the conviction and intention is there to drive the capital to where it is needed”. 

Accelerating Transition

In the short-term however, the energy trilemma - of security, sustainability and affordability - is still a dire concern for countries such as South Africa where most of the population remains reliant on a struggling coal-powered state utility. “Yesterday we saw the highest peak in electricity demand, 34GW, and Eskom could only provide 29GW, so there is a real shortage there that needs to be met,” said Thabo Molekoa, Managing Director of Siemens Energy Southern and Eastern Africa. Unpacking the South African energy crisis, business journalist Michael Avery said the country was “clearly not decarbonizing fast enough” and innovative solutions of all kinds needed to be explored. Joanne Coetzee Bate, COO of the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, said it was critical to use this moment in history to embrace innovations such as green hydrogen. “This is the greatest opportunity for re-industrialization that Africa has ever seen,” she said. While bearing the brunt of climate change and poverty, the greatest challenge Africa still faced in terms of energy, was access, said Nadja Haakansson, Africa Managing Director of Siemens Energy. “The population in Africa will double by 2050 to 2.5 billion and it could become a disaster if we don’t address energy access.”


All Hands on Deck

In conversation with Siemens Energy CEO and President Christian Bruch about expectations for the COP27 Conference in Egypt this year, Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said in closing: “Action, action, action. Stop negotiating. Put action as the first priority of the discussion. Identify barriers and build alliances on how to solve problems.” COP27, followed by COP28 in the United Arab Emirates in 2023, should focus on unifying Africa, the west and the east, the north and the south, he said. “We plan to make these two COPs the ‘COPs of Action’ - showing that we can do things when you bring all the actors together and have all hands on deck.”

Middle East & Africa Energy Week 2022

Connect with 40+ senior leaders from the energy industry to discuss topics around energy transition and decarbonization.