By Mantoe Phakathi
Demonstrating difficulties African women and children go through to get fuel, Kurt Lonsway, urged delegates at the Paris climate negotiations to take stacks of documents with them as they leave for their countries.
The division manager, environment and climate change, at the African Development Bank (AfDB), told delegates that the difficulties in carrying the documents and getting them through airports is similar to what African women and children face daily.
"This is because of an energy deficit in the continent," Lonsway said when addressing African Union Commission side event on Coordinating Energy and Climate Change in Africa.
According to Lonsway, over 600 million Africans lack access to electricity, over 700 million people in the continent still rely on solid fuels for cooking and heating purposes. Not only is it difficult and tedious for the women and children to get these sources of energy, but their pollution levels are also very high.
"With Africa's huge energy potential, particularly in renewable energy largely untapped, it is not surprising that there are many on-going energy initiatives and partnerships on the continent," said Lonsway.
The challenge is coordinating these different initiatives in the continent so that there is no duplication by donors and countries which are implementing projects.
"There is, therefore, a need for a coordination framework that is able to ensure coherence and avoid duplication of effort, and maximize reach and impact across the continent," said Lonsway.
In agreement with this view was chief executive director of New Partnership for Africa's Development, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, who said, to close the energy gap in Africa, initiatives need to be directed to areas in need at national, regional and international levels.
"Any new initiative has to take stock of what is already on the ground, complement and ensure value addition," said Mayaki in a statement he delivered through his representative, Mamadou Diakhate. "Countries are the best to champion the coordination of energy initiatives at national levels."
A representative from the European Union Commission, which is a partner in this initiative, Peter Craig-McQuaide, couldn't agree more with Mayaki saying that African countries should take ownership of this initiative.
"We are all guilty of not being streamlined as donors and country partners in the sector," said Craig-McQuaide.
Urging African governments to "put your house in order", he said the EUC does not want to put additional transactional costs to country partners, therefore, it was important that no duplication is made when funding energy projects.
Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) provided funding for the mapping of existing energy initiatives in the continent.
It looks like the continent is heading to the right direction considering that it is getting support from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to help countries transition to renewable sources of energy.
"We ensure that we have up-to-date information to inform decisions as a way of coordination," said Angela Kallhauge, IRENA senior programme officer-climate change.