Africa’s vast resources of gold, silver and rubber have been severely exploited by corrupt public officials and tribal wars, but the continent’s abundant renewable energy reserves remain untapped, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The report points out that Africa is trailing behind the rest of the world in renewable energy development because initiatives aimed at generating clean, renewable electricity remain stagnant.
Africa has just over 120 carbon market projects – ranging from wind energy to forestry schemes – that are already online or are under development. Meanwhile, landfill waste-to-energy projects account for 20 percent of the continent’s renewable energy efforts.
Stronger economies such as Egypt and South Africa have majority of the schemes, with 32 and 13 projects respectively. On the other hand, Zambia, Madagascar, Cameroon and Mali have only one or two projects each.
Other African countries have yet to establish any projects, the report states.
The report also mentions that the Clean Development Mechanism (C.D.M.) under the Kyoto Protocol is not progressing as planned. The market-based mechanism allows developed countries to reduce carbon emissions and meet global warming commitments by investing in carbon reduction projects in developing countries.
But despite the dismal figures, Kenya and Uganda proved to be positive exceptions as both countries experienced a boom in the number of carbon reduction projects underway, rising from two projects each in 2007 to 15 and 12 respectively.
“The growth of the carbon markets in Africa are both cause for optimism, and cause for concern,” claimed Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP.
“To realize only a few percentage points more of the massive potential for wind, solar, biomass and waste into energy schemes, action across a range of challenges needs to be stepped up,” he added.
However, John Kilani, a member of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, expressed optimism over the development of carbon offset projects in Africa.
“The groundwork has been laid for Africa to boost its participation in the carbon market, which is growing as an important commodity market worldwide,” said Mr. Kilani.