Nairobi: Kenyan President William Ruto voiced concerns over Africa’s pronounced vulnerability to climate change, despite its minimal carbon footprint, during his keynote at the Africa Climate Summit.
Ruto shed light on the continent’s considerable reliance on hydropower, with nations like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Zambia deriving over 80% of their electricity from this renewable source. He emphasized that Africa, rich in water resources, possesses an untapped potential of 1.4 petawatt hours annually, capable of powering half a billion households.
However, he also underscored the inherent political and environmental challenges, referencing tensions stemming from massive projects like Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam.
The Kenyan leader expressed his concerns over the increasing extremities in global and regional climates. Events such as droughts and floods, which are becoming more frequent, pose challenges to energy planning and management across the continent.
Given the sensitive nature of hydroelectric output to climate variations, Ruto called for comprehensive reviews on the projected impacts of climate change on Africa’s hydropower prospects. He flagged potential benefits for East Africa from a wetter climate, while southern and western regions might face challenges due to anticipated drier conditions.
Notably, the president pinpointed countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Uganda as more susceptible to these climate shifts due to their heavy reliance on hydropower. He commended Kenya’s efforts in diversifying its energy mix, heralding its ambitions for 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Ruto was optimistic about the prospects of renewable energy, viewing it as a catalyst for radical socio-economic growth.
“Africa can power all its energy needs sustainably,” he stated, indicating the abundant resources of wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass available.
Highlighting Kenya’s success, Ruto mentioned that the country’s national grid currently operates at 3 Giga Watts, with a staggering 92% derived from renewable sources.
However, he also pointed out the stark reality with nearly 600 million Africans still without electricity access. The Kenyan president concluded with a call for African leaders to rally behind sustainable solutions, emphasizing investment in renewable energy, green industrialization, and nature conservation.