On Tuesday, May 17 to Thursday, May 19, 2022; global government leaders, prominent business moguls, development institutions, civil society, congregated at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda for the 2022 Sustainable Energy For All (SEforALL) Forum. The Forum was viewed a moment for enabling commitments and partnerships for energy, climate and development progress.
The Forum opened proper with remarks from President Paul Kagame of Rwanda where he posited that; “Over the past decade, significant progress has been achieved toward the 7th Sustainable Development Goal on affordable and clean energy for all…This energy crisis coincides with the threat of climate change, to which our continent is especially vulnerable. Switching to renewable energy is crucial. That is why creating an enabling environment to attract investment in sustainable energy is so important. “There needs to be increased financing to developing countries to support climate adaptation, in line with international agreements. Africa cannot carry the burden alone, especially given that its emissions did not create the climate emergency. However, Africa will be part of the solution.”
Other speakers who gave opening remarks included Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General; who stated that; “Closing the gaps is crucial to accelerate renewable energy processes and adaptation. Private finance should stop fossil fuels and embrace clean energy initiatives.”
Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy stated during her speech that; “Through the Forum, SEforALL, with all of you here today, aims to shape what a just and equitable energy transition would look like across economies at distinct stages of development. We recognize that low-emitting, energy-poor countries must provide for the growth, development, and aspirations of their populations while also achieving their net-zero targets. Countries in Africa and Asia have unique challenges that must be considered and addressed to get them from where they are today to a clean energy future that leaves no one behind. SEforAll is a landmark global gathering which must ensure that affordable energy which is just and clean is affordable. We must act on time but leave no one behind. Energy transition must be just and clean.” She further stated that; “Decisive steps are needed to stop energy poverty.”
In his succinct speech, Minister Ernest Nsabimana, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure basically stated that those in attendance and those watching online should and can learn best practices from Rwanda.
Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions Founder, Bloomberg LP & Bloomberg Philanthropies, stated that; “Investments in clean energy have a lot of advantages and Africa can lead the way.”
Francesco Starace, CEO and General Manager of Enel stated that the world is not on track to get to SDG7 by 2030 but that Enel is committed to leave no one behind.
The Forum sought to spur investments in universal energy access, efficiency and transition, and to inform and inspire participants into action. Several key moments and major announcements were made which included but not limited to:
The 242-million-dollar commitment by Bloomberg Philanthropies which is to accelerate the clean energy transition in ten developing countries. Making the announcement Michael R. Bloomberg stated that; “We’ve seen that it’s possible to increase access to affordable power, improve public health, and fight climate change all at the same time – and to make progress quickly in each area. We have to spread that success around the world, especially in developing countries that have contributed the least to the climate crisis but are facing the most severe effects. This support will help ten countries with enormous clean energy potential seize the opportunity and avoid building new coal plants.”
As stated, the commitment is to accelerate the clean energy transition in 10 developing countries, namely, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa and others, through partnerships with SEforALL, the ClimateWorks Foundation, and other key partners to expand renewable energy capacity and access while phasing out coal use.
Other commitments included Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) which committed 50-million-dollar to further its multi-year support for SEforALL to bridge energy access gaps and support energy transition programmes in targeted markets.
The Scandinavian conglomerate IKEA via its IKEA Foundation announced 5.8-million-dollar funding for the Universal Energy Facility, the results-based financing facility managed by SEforALL.
Also, Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst announced that up to 40 million Pounds Sterling will be issued to help combat the climate crisis for communities in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Indo-Pacific regions.
Other financial commitments and new initiatives and partnerships announced or launched at the Forum include:
Ministers from African countries participated in a private Ministerial roundtable to help build a narrative for what constitutes a just and equitable energy transition in Africa, and to help guide commitments and actions on energy access and transition on the road to COP27. A communique from the represented countries will be issued in the coming days. Meanwhile, an Asia-Pacific Ministerial roundtable focused on scaling-up finance for the energy transition.
New and updated Energy Compacts were submitted to UN-Energy from Nepal and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), along with strong calls for accelerated action from Malawi, Nigeria and the UN for others to join existing or new Compacts.
Mission Efficiency was unveiled as a collective of commitments and actions on energy efficiency made by governments, organisations and other initiatives.
Climate and impact fund manager Camco Clean Energy has partnered with Energy Peace Partners to manage the Peace Renewable Energy Credit (P-REC) Aggregation Fund to expand renewable energy investment in fragile states in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Also, OPEC Fund announced an Energy Access and Transition Trust Fund to support clean cooking solutions and to facilitate a model project in Madagascar.
The Scottish Government launched its new Global Renewables Centre, which will provide a hub for facilitating knowledge exchange between the Scottish Renewable Sector and the Scottish Government’s three African partner countries namely Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia.
Solar Sister, Incorporated and LivelyHoods Kenya announced their merger to bring economic opportunity and clean energy to millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The host SEforALL launched the Chilling Prospects research report that identified one in seven people globally are at high risk due to lack of access to cooling and numbers will continue to rise by 2030 without action to achieve universal electrification and end extreme poverty.
Some interesting figures reeled out at the end of the three day summit included: Over 1,000 attendees, including leaders from government, business, development institutions, and civil society, gathered to enable commitments and partnerships for energy, climate and development progress. The Forum included the announcement of several new commitments and initiatives to support energy access and transition, with approximately 347 million USD in finance commitments revealed by SEforALL’s partners.
The Forum also marked the 10th anniversary of SEforALL as an organization and provided an opportunity to reflect on its progress and establish goals for the next 10 years.
In her closing remarks, Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, stated that; “While we celebrate the success of this global SEforALL Forum, we also recognize that there is still a long way for us to go. We need urgent and decisive action to drive forward a people-centred energy transition. Energy, climate and development must go together – clean energy access truly is the link to a better life, to a safer and more prosperous future.”
The three-day summit was as someone put it aptly, “The Oscars of the energy sector” and it was the first global sustainable energy summit asides the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland where the players in the sustainable and renewable energy space were converging. With the high number of young minds (from diverse cultures, backgrounds and countries) who are creating a niche for themselves in the space, whom I interacted with it is safe to say that they would carry the gospel of sustainable and renewable energy to the ends of the earth.
Dolapo Aina writes from Kigali, Rwanda.