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Africa can leverage ICT to leap-frog into a green economy

Huawei believes that ICT has the potential to reduce global carbon emissions by 20% over the next decade.

William Xu, Director of the Board and President of Huawei's Institute of Strategic Research, recently said energy sustainability was a daunting challenge that faced all countries over the next decade.

“Global energy consumption is growing at an annual rate of 1.7%. Currently 85% of energy comes from fossil fuels. Energy sustainability is a daunting challenge that faces all of us. By empowering a wide range of industries, ICT technology has the potential to reduce global carbon emissions by 20% over the next decade,” said Xu.

He added that as many countries commit to carbon neutrality and lower emissions, the push for renewable energy has increased, and this is where ICT adds new opportunities in electricity generation, storage, and consumption.

“For energy consumption, we must promote integrated smart energy to build energy management systems for households, buildings, and factories, and to create zero-carbon communities, campuses, and cities,” said Xu.

The Chinese multinational technology company said in Africa, many countries are increasingly embracing renewable energy to leapfrog “to a sustainable energy future”.

In solar power alone, Africa has made great progress over the recent years, with more than 6,200 largescale, commercial and industrial (C&I) and mini-grid projects identified across the continent.

In addition, nine more African nations, apart from South Africa and Egypt, are on their way to joining the ‘Gigawatt Club’, an unofficial tag for the group of countries with installed capacity to produce one GW of solar power.

Huang Su, Director of Huawei Southern Africa Digital Power Business pointed out that nearly half the world’s population without access to electricity live in sub-Saharan Africa.

“So there is a strong and urgent need to accelerate the growth of renewable energy across the region to ensure sufficient, affordable, reliable energy for all Africans and for countries to reap the benefits of a green economy,” he said.

With a grid connectivity algorithm powered by AI, Huawei said it has provided over 200 power grid models for more than 30 countries and regions.

“This has helped power plants stably connect to grids in all scenarios and has gradually made PV a high-quality, mainstream energy source,” the company added.

AfDB investment

African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina recently joined 40 heads of state and government at the Leaders Summit on Climate, hosted by the United States, during which the US, Japan and Canada announced ambitious climate targets to address the escalating emergency.

United States President Joe Biden said the US would aim to cut carbon emissions by 50% to 52% from 2005 levels by 2030. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau upgraded their nations’ targets to more than 40% over the same period.

The United States is hosting the two-day virtual summit. It coincided with Earth Day on Thursday and gave a platform to a diverse range of voices, particularly those from developing countries that have been directly affected by climate-linked disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a panel discussion titled “Financing the 10-year Sprint,” Adesina spelled out the challenge that confronts Africa as the climate crisis worsens and the world races to meet the 2030 deadline for the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Organisers said Africa contributed the least to rising temperatures but suffered the worst impacts of climate change, in the form of droughts, floods, and plagues like the recent locust invasion in East Africa.

Adesina said: “The continent loses $7 billion to $15 billion a year to climate change, and this will rise to $50 billion per year by 2040, according to the IMF. Africa is not at net zero. Africa is at ground zero. We must therefore give Africa a lift to get a chance of adapting to what it did not cause.”

Adesina added that the Bank had committed US$25-billion to climate finance over the next four years. Its share of financing devoted to climate rose from 9% in 2016 to 35% in 2019 and will reach 40% in 2021.

The Bank devoted 50% of its climate finance to climate adaptation in 2018. In 2020, that rose to a record 63%.

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