China a vital partner for Africa in energy planning

By Toumert Al Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/27 20:13:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

The groundwork for a shared future of climate protection as envisioned by China is being laid in Africa.

Today, Africa is building its economic infrastructure with a clear vision and transforming the continent into an urban, industrialized powerhouse.

This vision is tied to its growing cities. According to current estimates, Africa is going to be home to 20 of the largest cities in the world by 2050. This means we expect that some 1.2 billion African people will be living in cities, a two-fold increase from today's situation.

The increased urbanization and economic progress of the African continent will bring opportunities and challenges, especially in the field of economic sustainability, social development, and commitment to climate protection.

Policymakers in Africa are aware of this, and have committed themselves to the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, with a goal to achieve universal access to energy on the continent. The initiative plans to generate 10 gigawatts (GW) of new and additional renewable energy in the continent by 2020, and 300 GW by 2030.

However, since the retreat of the US from the Paris climate accord, African nations can only turn to China to make their energy initiative come true.

The facts of China's shared common destiny with African nations are clear at all levels. Back in 2015, China announced its commitment of 20 billion yuan ($3.17 billion) toward the South-South Climate Cooperation Fund. The pledge is a great increase from China's previous spending on the South-South Cooperation on Climate Change (SSCCC) of about $30 million per year.

A report compiled by the International Energy Agency shows that since 2010 Chinese companies have played a big role in the African electricity sector, and have realized around one-third of the investment projects in the energy sector, in most cases with the help of financing from Chinese development banks.

Also, Chinese investment in the energy sector in Africa goes beyond establishing power capacity; it also covers efficient distribution and transportation solutions. This gives China a unique approach for its support of the Paris agreement spirit, providing a full-circle green initiative, from production to usage.

Three African countries that receive Chinese investment and transfer of knowhow in green energy solutions offer an example of this approach: Ethiopia, Ghana and Morocco.

Let us start with Ethiopia, with the Adama wind farm developed by HydroChina International. Phase 1 was completed in 2012 and has a capacity of 51 megawatts (MW), provided by 34 Goldwind 1.5 MW wind turbines. The construction of phase 1 involved many local workers and received regular visits from professors and students from local universities for educational purposes.

In Ghana, China not only invested in the country's power production, but also in supply and distribution. Chinese firms, such as Hunan Construction Engineering Group, have provided electricity access for more than 1 million people.

Finally we have Morocco, where last year Chinese automaker BYD and the government of Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding to build a battery-powered vehicle factory near the Moroccan city of Tangiers that will employ 2,500 people.

It also established that BYD will introduce Chinese technical, production and quality standards in Morocco.

The pattern we see emerging from these examples is that China has become an indispensable partner for the African continent in energy planning and execution. China not only brings statements of support for a better global climate future - it is actually investing heavily in the future of African economic growth.

This will ensure that Africa's development does not come at a heavy environmental cost. It also shows China's sincere commitment to a shared, sustainable future.

The author is director of education with the International Bachelor Program at the International School under China Foreign Affairs University.


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