Osinbajo outlines pathway for economic growth in Africa

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has declared that for African countries to attain middle-income status and societal prosperity for their people, the issue of energy has to be tackled headlong and reflected in global energy transition conversations.

To achieve this, Osinbajo outlined specific pathways that would lead to climate-positive economic growth in the continent and, at the same time, lead to the realisation of global net-zero emissions targets.

This was one of the major highlights of Osinbajo’s Special Public Lecture at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, United States, where he spoke on the specific title, ‘Energy Transition in Africa.’

Emphasising the point about Africa’s potential in the realisation of global energy transition targets, the Vice President said: “Africa’s endowments, renewable energy, natural resources and a young workforce, present a compelling set of circumstances for several pathways to climate-positive growth.”

These pathways, according to the Vice President, are: “Low emissions consumption and production. The point being that Africa can – instead of going the carbon-intensive path to providing energy, goods and services for its own needs – take full advantage of green technologies and practices. There is the distinct advantage that Africa can actually pursue a green course of growth without worrying about costly legacy infrastructure.

He noted: “The second pathway is that having recognised the fact that global zero carbon ambitions cannot be realised without intentional carbon removal technologies and practices, Africa can ramp up her own potential to do this through a combination of planned land use and ecosystem management, and investment in emerging engineered removal technologies.”

“Already, Africa’s large carbon sinks, currently, store years of global emissions, and the abundant supply of unused agricultural waste is available as biomass for clean energy production and soil improvement.”

The third pathway, he said, is “with its abundant reserves of renewable energy and raw materials, Africa can become a hugely competitive green manufacturing and energy hub for the world and accelerate the greening of global industry. Thus, the paradox of an energy-poor continent becoming the green industrial powerhouse of the world is easily resolvable and must be.”

But he proposed that the developed world changes its perception of Africa, and not see the continent merely as a victim but as a solution in the climate change conversations and the attainment of the global net zero targets by 2050-2060.

According to Osinbajo, “Africa’s own growth and development are not being seriously accommodated in the global Energy Transition conversations. Yet, a strategic key to attaining global net zero by 2050 may well lie in seeing Africa from a different paradigm, not merely as a victim but as a solution.”

The Vice President noted: “Beyond climate justice, may lie a real opportunity for Africa and the world. This opportunity is the distinct possibility of Climate Positive Growth for Africa. In other words, a paradigm where Africa pursues a climate positive or carbon negative path to middle-income status and beyond.”

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