Special Representative for Energy in Africa
Since January 2017, I have been working on an honorary basis as the Special Representative for Energy in Africa of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Africa. I develop projects in nine African countries together with BMZ, GIZ (Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit) and KfW (Kreditanstalt für wirtschaftliche Entwicklung).
Why am I doing this?
Half of the population in Africa has no access to electricity. Of these people, 90% live in the countryside. How would we live if 50% of the people in Germany had no electricity? Not to be imagined!
In addition, in many of these countries 50% of the population is 18 years and younger, the population is growing strongly and many young people need a perspective.
Meeting the SDGs and the Paris climate targets
Green citizen energy – decentralized, climate-friendly renewable energy – starts right here! Fighting poverty and hunger with photovoltaics: drying vegetables and fruit, cooling fish and medicines, bringing light into the houses, enabling crafts such as blacksmithing, welding, metal processing and sewing, offering services such as hairdressers, restaurants and mobile phone charging stations. This will create income, jobs and added value, and better equip health stations and schools. Women in particular also benefit from decentralised energy structures.
Many of the sustainability goals can be better achieved with renewable energies and even in a climate-friendly way. We can improve people’s living conditions.
“Leave no one behind” is the motto of the 2030 Agenda. We must meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and at the same time comply with the goals of the Paris Climate Conference, because the people of Africa in particular are suffering from the effects of the climate crisis, such as droughts and floods.
Creating income, offering training, providing financing
We can only build up decentralised energies together with the local population. It is crucial that we have a good operator model so that the systems are maintained and function in the long term. To do this, we need trained young people. That is why we are also promoting vocational training in these areas within the framework of Green Citizen Energy. We offer networks so that stakeholders can exchange their experiences and spread good ideas. All this is GIZ’s task.
But we do not want to stop at individual examples; good projects must be duplicated quickly in order to reach as many people as possible.
To do this, we need money, including private investment. For the development of decentralised solar grids, we therefore support crowdfunding opportunities with KfW or participate in projects of the African Development Bank, because we naturally want to strengthen local companies in particular.
In Zambia and Senegal, the milk is collected by cooperatives from the individual, widely dispersed farmers. In some cases, this milk is then further processed and thus added value is created. The families earn income, the children can go to school, especially for the women the life situation improves.
In Benin, farmers have replaced diesel water pumps with solar pumps. This is not only climate-friendly, but the investment is recovered after a few years, because the price of diesel and the maintenance costs are very high compared to solar pumps. A model that is very easy to reproduce.
The training of teachers who are retraining young people in other parts of Namibia. A young man demonstrated his self-built photovoltaic systems to me and said very enthusiastically: we can put photovoltaics on every roof, people have light and no longer need candles whose smoke makes you sick. The risk of fire is reduced.