Public Financing as a Critical Path Forward to a Just Energy Transition in Africa

(Engineering News, Johannesburg 12 January 2023) The path to decarbonizing the energy sector is not a “one-size-fits-all” between developed and developing markets. Given the historical strain between developed economies (which modernized with fossil fuels) and developing economies (now being asked to forgo this route), it is evident that sustainable, long-term global cooperation and energy security will be required to address the need for Africans to have access to sustainable, reliable, and affordable energy. If we truly want to increase electrification in developing countries in Africa and help provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy, policy makers and financial institutions must partner with project sponsors to tailor capital solutions that best fit the region and its countries. ECAs and DFIs along with commercial banks and other multilaterals play a critical role in enabling access to the capital required to deliver a more just and equitable energy transition today and for future generations. In a recent opinion piece, Jonathan Bell, Editor in Chief of TFX News asks "When will sub-Saharan Africa be able to properly see the light?' and addresses "the jokers that think such countries ought to be moving straight to renewables – they need to ask how could they pay for such projects, and how could any related debt be repaid?" With respect to the Friends of the Earth opposition to the Mozambique LNG project he argues that "some of [those] volumes to be exported were destined to be used in power generation to replace coal and oil generators - a move which would lower carbon emissions globally." [What's New Editorial comment: Given that northern industrial development was largely financed on the backs of African slaves, one could also ask why we must hold back on tightening our own belts and coming up with the admittedly huge means to pay for their carbon free investments, in reparation for what we got from Africa, instead of begging for the delay of a long overdue "just" transition to keep ourselves warm.]