Namibia is the best performing African country to make a successful energy transition. This is contained in the World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index 2020 released on Wednesday, May 13.
The report summarizes insights from the “Energy Transition Index” (ETI), which builds upon the previous series of “Global Energy Architecture Performance Index” by adding a forward looking element of country readiness for energy transition.
According to the Fostering Effective Energy Transition report, Nambia has an ETI score of 53,6%, system performance of 54% and transition readiness stands at 53%.
Ghana follows with 53.2% ETI, system performance of 59% and transition readiness of 47%.
The index ranks South Africa 106 out of 115 countries, improving nine places over the past 12 months. The countries are benchmarked on the performance of their energy systems and their readiness for transition to secure, sustainable, affordable and inclusive systems.
Kenya is 79th and rated 54% prepared to make the switch while Zambia and Botswana are ranked 98th and 99th respectively.
Nigeria is the least prepared African country, ranking 113th, one place above Cameroon. Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy, is 35% prepared to make the transition while Cameroon which the report ranks 114th is 42% ready.
In the report, the WEF also warned that the coronavirus pandemic risks cancelling out recent progress in transitioning to clean energy, with unprecedented falls in demand, price volatility and pressure to quickly mitigate socioeconomic costs placing the near-term trajectory of the transition in doubt.
According to the report, economic development and growth dimension of energy transition is currently being challenged by the cascading effects of Covid-19.
Sweden (1) leads the ETI for the third consecutive year, followed by Switzerland (2) and Finland (3). France (8) and United Kingdom (7) are the only G20 countries in the top 10.
Meanwhile, the trend has been moderately positive in Germany (20), Japan (22) and South Korea (48) and Russia (80).
On the other hand, scores for Canada (28), Chile (29), Lebanon (114), Malaysia (38), and Turkey (67) have declined since 2015. The United States ranks outside the top 25% for the first time, primarily due to the uncertain regulatory outlook for energy transition.
World Bank grants Africa, Asia $500 million to battle locust invasion.
The World Bank has approved $500 million in grants and low-interest loans to help countries in Africa and the Middle East combat swarms of desert locusts that had been eating their way across vast swaths of crops and rangelands.
Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda; the Four of the hardest-hit countries will receive $160 million immediately, according to Holger Kray, a senior World Bank official.
“The Horn of Africa finds itself at the epicenter of the worst locust outbreak we have seen in a generation, most probably in more than a generation,”
Kray says, noting that the new coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating the crisis.
The World Bank emphasized that this pestilence had infested 23 countries across East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, the biggest outbreak in 70 years posing a grave danger to food supplies in East Africa where nearly 23 million people are facing food shortages. Now coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, the situation becomes more worrisome.
The World Bank estimates that the Horn of Africa region could suffer up to $8.5 billion in damage to crop and livestock production by year-end without broad measures to reduce locust populations and prevent their spread further. Even with these measures, losses could be as high as $2.5 billion, the lender adds.
In Kenya, the locusts are eating in one day, the amount of food consumed by all Kenyans in two days, Kray explains.
The new World Bank program will help farmers, herders and rural households by providing fertilizer and seeds for new crops and cash transfers to pay for food for people and livestock. It will also fund investments to strengthen surveillance and early warning systems to make the region more resilient over the medium- to longer-term, Kray explained
Massive rains lead to evacuation of 6,000 Rwandans in high-risk areas
Official says some 4,000 of the displaced persons are staying with their relatives, 1,500 living in government-rented houses
Emergency and other government officials in Rwanda have evacuated about 6,000 Rwandans living in high-risk zones threatened by heavy rainfall in different parts of the country.
Minister of Local Government Anastase Shyaka told a press conference on Wednesday in Kigali that the citizens had been threatened by excessive rainfall in the past few weeks hence the evacuation.
Shyaka said some 4,000 of the displaced persons are staying with their relatives, 1,500 living in government-rented houses while about 300 others were being temporarily sheltered in schools, a Xinxua news agency report said.
Environment Minister, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya also said at the joint briefing that although the heavy rains had began to cease in the third week of December, disaster management and mitigation measures would still be necessary.
Another top government official and infrastructure minister, Claver Gatete said floods and landslides caused by heavy rains in 2019 have affected 22 national roads, and 42 district roads and bridges. An official assessment showed that the evacuated persons lived in high-risk zones to be hit by heavy rains hence the government’s action.
Official data showed that extreme weather last year has caused more than 250 deaths in Rwanda, and this year have left more than 100 people dead, some 5,000 houses damaged and more than 9,000 hectares of plantations destroyed.
A United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report also said that in East Africa, at least 280 people have been killed and more than 2.8 million others affected by unusually heavy rainfall and flooding this year.
DR Congo rainforest attacked on all sides
Lush rainforest covers millions of hectares of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a central part of Earth’s natural defence against global warming — but it is under severe threat from a perfect storm of mismanagement.
An array of global and local NGOs are in a tense fight to save the rainforest, which lost an area twice the size of Luxembourg last year alone, according to Global Forest Watch.
But the problems run right through DR Congo society — from the poor who rely on charcoal for fuel in a country with meagre supplies of other power, to the senior officials who profit from illegal logging.
“There are lawmakers and soldiers involved. They don’t pay taxes — it’s unfair competition,” says Felicien Liofo, head of a wood craftsmen’s association.
Local police say soldiers simply rip apart the fences around the forest and threaten to shoot anyone who tries to stop them.
– NGOs fight back
The government faces a daunting challenge to protect the rainforest.
Its 2002 forestry code imposed a moratorium on new concessions and regulated the number of trees that could be chopped down under existing permits, but officials complain of a lack of resources.
Felicien Malu, a provincial environment coordinator, has roughly 1,200 workers to cover a province twice the size of Portugal.
But his staff, he says, are not paid and lack even the basic tools of their trade — boats, motorcycles or pickup trucks.
“We can’t organise control missions because there are many rivers to cross and unpaved roads,” he says.
His predecessor in the job was suspended for embezzlement, underlining how corruption feeds the problem of deforestation.
NGOs have launched a multi-pronged attack against the plunder.
Greenpeace Africa and a coalition of eight NGOs from DRC and neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville have demanded a halt to all industrial activities in the millions of hectares of peatland shared by the two countries.
The ancient wetlands store huge amounts of carbon, but companies are involved in oil exploration, logging and industrial agriculture in the area.
Global Witness investigated the illegal logging trade and earlier this year accused a general in the Congolese army of illegally reselling logging permits.
However, electricity in DRC is a rare luxury, meaning that most Congolese still rely on charcoal as their main fuel supply.
Making charcoal involves chopping down trees and slow-burning the wood in covered ovens — all of which comes at a steep price for the environment.
“I get through a $30 sackful every two months. That’s a fair chunk of what I earn,” says Solange Sekera while shopping at a market in the eastern city of Goma. “We have no other means of preparing meals.”
Our forests may disappear’ –
The charcoal trade — known locally as Makala — is worth millions of dollars and it is attracting armed groups to the Goma area, threatening Virunga natural park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas.
More than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) to the west, the reliance on charcoal in Kinshasa is also causing severe problems.
Kinshasa residents consume five million tonnes of wood a year, according to French research group Cirad, and increasing urbanisation is just raising the pressure on the forests.
On the hillsides around the capital, there are scarcely any trees left.
NGOs and the government are once again trying to respond.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is trying to minimise the impact of charcoal burning by introducing “eco makala” ovens that burn the fuel more efficiently and so use less wood.
And President Felix Tshisekedi is trying to boost electricity across the country to reduce demand for wood-based fuel.
He has championed hydroelectric power — and ground was broken in early October on a new dam in Goma.
NGOs and locals are not convinced of the viability of the project, but Tshisekedi is adamant: “Given the current rate of population growth and our energy needs, our forests may disappear by the year 2100,” he says.