“Is Africa’s energy transition within reach? Construction and deconstruction of energy and development narratives in Africa” – Nature Speaks

  • May 27, 2019     Accra

    On 26 July 2019, UNU-INRA will convene the second session of the Professor Alexander Adum Kwampong Lectures: Nature Speaks on the topic ‘Is Africa’s energy transition within reach? Construction and deconstruction of energy and development narratives in Africa,’ to be delivered by Dr Youba Sokona, Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

    Launched on 25 April 2019, the Professor Alexander Adum Kwapong Lectures: Nature Speaks is a quarterly event held within the respected knowledge cradle of the University of Ghana, with the aim of providing a space to facilitate free debate and the exchange of ideas.

    About the topic

    The world is undergoing a fundamental shift in energy from centralized fossil fuel-based systems to increasingly decentralized renewable energy systems at scales to suite every energy need. Limited energy infrastructure, population spread over vast areas and a wide range of climatic constraints in the African context constituted a disadvantage – but all that can now be an advantage. Africa has unmatched renewable energy availability, the technologies required to utilize this energy have seen considerable development and can now be scaled to meet every need and installed where needed. Furthermore, Africa can avoid the costly lock-in of centralized energy systems in areas previously without electricity and upgrade existing systems to enhance energy security. Perhaps most importantly, energy is essential to the task of meeting people’s aspirations and is a precondition for wider economic and social development. The lecture will set out the deconstruction of the African energy narrative, the vision, context and opportunities to harness renewable energy for development in Africa in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.

    About the speaker

    Prof Sokona is currently Special Advisor for Sustainable Development at the South Centre. With over 35 years of experience addressing energy, environment and sustainable development in Africa, Prof Youba Sokona has been at the heart of numerous national and continental initiatives. He coordinated the scoping, framing and development of the “Africa Renewable Energy Initiative” and the “LDC – Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative”. Reflecting his status, Prof Sokona was elected Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2015. Prior to this, Prof Sokona was Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III on the mitigation of climate change for the Fifth Assessment Report after serving as a Lead Author since 1990.

    In addition to these achievements, Prof Sokona has a proven track record of organizational leadership and management, for example as Inaugural Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) and as Executive Secretary of the Sahara and the Sahel Observatory (OSS). Prof Sokona’s advice is highly sought after, and as such, he is affiliated with numerous boards and organizations, including as Honorary Professor at the University College London (UCL), Member of African Academy of Sciences, Member of Science Advisory Committee of the International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA) and as a Special Advisor to the African Energy Leaders Group, Member of the Advisory Board of the Payne Institute for Public Policy, Colorado School of Mines, USA. In short, Prof Sokona is a global figure, with deep technical knowledge, extensive policy experience and an unreserved personal commitment to African led development.

    The second Professor Alexander Adum Kwapong lecture will coincide with the IPCC Outreach Meetings, a major event co-organized by UNU-INRA, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the African Academy of Science (AAS), in collaboration with the University of Ghana from 25 to 26 July, 2019. 

    Stay tuned for more details.