Energy must be the engine of regional and African economic development

Africa’s energy sector has the potential to propel African economies towards sustainable growth and recovery.

This is according to the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, who was addressing the Africa Energy Indaba held at the Cape Town International Convention Center on Tuesday.

“Energy must drive regional and continental economic development, as it does for advanced economies.

“We must continually share ideas on how we can collectively accelerate the development of Africa’s energy sector so that it is at the heart of all socio-economic development, as well as the growth and development of the continent”, did he declare.

Mantashe said the continent has the resources to propel it to the forefront of global renewable energy.

“Africa should be a global pioneer in renewable energy. Our continent has all the minerals needed to drive significant development at a rapid pace. We need programs to enable economic exploitation, beneficiation and export. Investment in research and development, and technology, is imperative if we are to grow, develop and compete globally,” he said.

The minister said Africa will be able to “unleash this potential” if it is offered cooperation from international partners and through continental financial investments.

“We have reset our economic diplomacy work towards a clear focus on intra-African cooperation and trade. As such, we have and will continue to engage in bilateral and multilateral platforms on the continent.”

Transition to low carbon emissions

Mantashe told the conference that African countries must be given the opportunity to carve out an individual transition from carbon-intensive economies to greener energy.

“Africa must define its own just energy transition that will enable the continent to grow economically. Our own agenda, our own execution, where we cooperate and invite others to partner with us to achieve the Africa we want.

“Transition must aid development and address historical inequalities, not undermine and exacerbate them. We must not be ambivalent about the just energy transition debate. another in a flash is both irrational and dangerous,” he said.

The minister said South Africa, in particular, remains “committed to doing its fair share” in reducing carbon use. No community – especially those that will be directly affected – should be left behind, he said.

“Our overall response must be a just, balanced and inclusive transition. At the center must be people and their livelihoods.

“Transition resets current economies, changes the nature of industries; gives new logic to jobs and required skill sets. We must therefore approach this reality pragmatically and refocus the debate away from the narrow techno-determinist vision. to one that focuses holistically on what it means for the development of African societies,” Mantashe said.

He announced that the ministry was finalizing its political contributions to the just transition framework for the energy and mining sectors.

“The bias [in the policy] aims to mitigate the expected socio-economic impacts on our mining and energy communities [from the just energy transition]. It focuses on retraining workers, as well as creating alternative economic livelihoods for the communities surrounding these energy utilities and mines.

“We intend to begin with an extensive process of dialogue and public consultation this year,” Mantashe said.

(With contributions from the South African government press release)

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