Thursday, September 17, 2015

Women should be the Key Drivers of Renewable Energy in Africa

 By Ann Makena

Africa countries face enormous development challenges that are primary concern. Increasing energy production and enhancing access to electricity and off grid sources of energy is at core of these challenges and is an imperative looking at the energy crisis the continent now faces. Access to sustainable health for all energy for all with no impact on health, the environment and the household budget should become a universal right, provided that policies are designed and implemented.

According to the international Renewable Energy Agency(IRENA) Renewable energy is cheaper than diesel generators or unstable power grid connections but their prices are distorted by fossil fuel subsidies.These subsidies could be used to incentivize the deployment. It is evident that droughts and changes in rainfall patterns have led to drastic food shortages and loses in Agriculture production in Africa. Temperature rises have also led to severe heat waves killing millions of people; melting of glaciers has caused flooding and drying up of rivers resulting in water shortages.

According to the global climate and health Alliance about 150 million people currently live in cities affected by chronic water shortages and is likely to increase to a billion   by 20150 if nothing is done .Children born in a drought year are likely to be malnourished or stunted .The after-shocks of  climate event also include mental health problems on victims.

Women are more vulnerable to energy poverty as they are often tasked with the most energy –intensive daily work .These women can also become the main drivers of the access to renewable for all provide that the energy policies take into account both the vulnerability and the leadership of women in the promotion of renewable and efficient energy solutions and also ensure active participation of women in the design and the implementation of sustainable energy programmes.

Taking into account both the vulnerability and the leadership of women in the promotion of renewable and efficient energy solutions, there is need to ensure active participation of women in the design and implementation of sustainable energy programmes.

Switching to the renewable energy is very important in climate change and health as it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions which will lead to a reduction in hospital admissions especially on respiratory ailments and in turn save costs for healthcare. The climate agreement in Paris this December this December should sufficiently address the health benefits of fighting climate change.   According to the REN21 report renewable energy and energy efficiency are not only critical for addressing climate change ,but also for creating new economic opportunities and for providing access to the billions of people still living in modern services.

African states can set an example for the international community by demonstrating their leadership in deploying programs, projects for the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency, using incentives such as renewable energy feed-in tariffs.

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