AFCON sponsorship: A greenwashing strategy by TotalEnergies

The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is not just a football tournament; it's a euphoric celebration of national pride, unity, and the beautiful game that unites us all. As a fan, AFCON is the pinnacle of excitement, a time when our hearts beat in sync with the rhythm of the game, and our spirits soar with each goal scored for our beloved national team. I can’t describe the joy and excitement I felt when Sadio Mané scored the 3rd goal against Cameroon. 

One can feel and even touch the passion of football for African youth, and AFCON is the stage where our collective dream comes alive: African Unity. As the kickoff approaches, the entire nation becomes a sea of colors, echoing with cheers, chants, and the beating of drums. We proudly wear our team jerseys, painting our faces with the vibrant hues of our national flag, ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow compatriots.

For me, AFCON is more than a competition; it's a showcase of the extraordinary talent that our continent possesses. Our star players become heroes, and their every move on the field is a source of collective joy and celebration. The tournament brings together diverse cultures, languages, and traditions under the common banner of football, fostering a sense of unity and shared identity that transcends borders.

The intensity of each match and the collective roar of the crowd create an electrifying atmosphere. It's a rollercoaster of emotions. However, AFCON is not just about the sport, it’s an “Industry of collective attention”, and it's also a huge greenwashing machine used by fossil fuel companies.

As I watched the game Nigeria vs Côte d’Ivoire, the TotalEnergies logo was suddenly harassing me, knowing all the damages they are causing to the environment particularly in Africa with the EACOP project. Studies show, and TotalEnergies is aware of it, that the construction and operation of EACOP pose grave environmental risks. Worse, TotalEnergies, was aware of the harmful global warming impacts due to burning fossil fuels since 1971 and actively engaged in a sophisticated denial campaign of climate science. The pipeline route traverses sensitive ecosystems, including protected areas and internationally significant wetlands, posing threats to biodiversity and ecosystems that thousands of kids, vulnerable women, and poor families depend on for their sustenance.

As Côte d’Ivoire was scoring in the last minutes, I felt sad and everything vanished. The joy, the excitement, the cheers, and even the stadium disappeared. All I saw was the red, blue, and yellow colors of the TotalEnergies logo. 

At that moment, I realized that I, the players, and the million viewers were oiling a huge greenwashing machine run by TotalEnergies. One may not be familiar with greenwashing, so let me unpack it for you. 

Major sporting events like the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) are used as opportunities for companies and brands to communicate with audiences and shape a good image. Greenwashing is one of these strategies. It involves presenting a misleading image of a brand or company, and events such as AFCON is leveraged by TotalEnergies for such purposes through sponsorship and advertising. 

“On July 21, 2016, Total signed an eight-year partnership with the African Football Confederation (AFC), the governing body of football on the continent. Our Company - TotalEnergies - has thus become the title sponsor of the ten main AFC competitions including the prestigious African Cup of Nations (AFCON). Renamed AFCON Total then AFCON TotalEnergies on this occasion, it is the most important sporting event in Africa and the third largest football competition after the World Cup and the European Championship. Africa is part of our DNA.”

According to the Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné: “Africa is an integral part of TotalEnergies’ DNA. Through this commitment, we are strengthening our links and our proximity with our stakeholders and our customers, around popular and festive competitions which always arouse great enthusiasm, including within our teams.”

AFCON becomes a strategic time to capture the audience's attention, what Puyanné refers to as “great enthusiasm”, and shape perceptions before the tournament begins. TotalEnergy even associated their name with the competition per se; so instead of saying AFCON, in the media, they call it TotalEnergy AFCON. Meaning, they own - or should I say usurped - the competition from millions of football fans. 

The goal of using greenwashing during AFCON is to manipulate the audience's perception, associating the brand with positive environmental values and diverting attention from any negative environmental practices. One can notice that TotalEnergies launched advertising campaigns leading up to AFCON using a greenwashing strategy by highlighting their environmental initiatives and green products. In this ad, they showcase electric cars, solar-powered device charging phones, green solutions, etc to implicitly shape the image of an eco-responsible company while they are polluting and causing loss and damage among those that are watching the competition.

Total agent providing power to an Electric car
Solar powered lamp made by TotalEnergies

In 2022, TotalEnergies made a record $36 billion profit from its oil and gas exploration in Africa, wrecking the planet and devastating communities. TotalEnergies cannot continue hijacking our prestigious football moment with its advertising. People from impacted communities and countries have already rejected its extractivist-based neo-colonial activities and expansion of oil and gas exploitation. AFCON 2024 must be the last TotalEnergies-sponsored cup! Together, we must join our forces to kick Total Out of the Continent.


Unpacking Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Why It is Not the Climate Solution it is touted as

Climate change is a global challenge that demands innovative solutions. One proposed solution that's been gaining attention is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). While CCS is increasingly being touted as a silver bullet to combat climate change, it is a diversionary tactic that allows polluters to keep polluting while delaying real climate action and solutions. 

In this blog post, we'll break down CCS in simple terms and explore why CCS is a dangerous distraction and not the solution to curbing greenhouse gas emissions and avoiding the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

Understanding CCS: The Basics

Carbon Capture and Storage is like a vacuum cleaner for carbon dioxide (CO2). Imagine your favorite power plant or factory is a giant CO2 factory, churning out tons of the greenhouse gas into the air. CCS steps in to capture that CO2 before it escapes into the atmosphere.

  • Capture:
    • Imagine capturing CO2 is like catching butterflies. There are different ways to do it, like putting a net after the butterflies (post-combustion), catching them before they fly (pre-combustion), or creating an environment where they can't escape (oxy-fuel combustion).
  • Transportation:
    • Once we've caught the CO2 butterflies, we need to take them to a safe place. This involves transporting the captured CO2, usually through pipelines or ships, to storage sites.
  • Storage:
    • Think of storage sites as giant butterfly gardens, but underground. We carefully release the CO2 butterflies into these gardens, making sure they stay put and don't escape back into the air.

Why Some Skepticism?

While CCS sounds deceptively promising, experts and critics have raised concerns about it

Cost Concerns:

  • Building and maintaining the CO2-catching vacuum cleaner can be expensive. Some argue that the money spent on CCS might be better used for more affordable and proven green technologies.

Delaying the Switch to Green Energy:

  • Critics worry that focusing too much on CCS might slow down our transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources like wind and solar power. It's like fixing a leaky faucet instead of installing a more efficient water-saving system.

Butterfly Escapes:

  • There's always a risk that some CO2 butterflies might escape from storage sites. If that happens, we're back to square one with greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.

Energy Hog:

  • The process of capturing and storing CO2 requires energy itself. It's like using a lot of energy to catch those butterflies, making the whole operation less efficient.

In the grand scheme of things, CCS isn't a simple superhero swooping in to save the day. In addition to the concerns above, CCS affords polluters to continue their harmful practices, fueling climate breakdown, instead of embarking on the urgently needed phase out of fossil fuels.

To truly tackle climate change, we need to eliminate dangerous distractions and employ a mix of real climate solutions. This includes investing, and tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 which many nations supported at COP28, improving energy efficiency, and phasing out fossil fuels.These measures are critical towards a greener, sustainable and livable future for all.


Tick Tock on the Climate Clock: Youth activists from West Africa Unite for Renewable Energy

From July 19th to July 22nd, over 200 young people from across West Africa gathered to call for urgent measures to tackle the climate and energy crises during an annual forum dubbed the Regional Youth Climate Camp. Organized by the Renewable Energy Coalition members in Benin (ADJEC & JUPD), it was a space of connections, discussions, training, and sharing of experiences on the best practices in terms of community-led renewable energy projects.

As the heat kept breaking record numbers, the power of collective action and unwavering determination was palpable in the air. Civil society organizations and passionate youth groups around the world gathered and held synchronized actions to mark Climate Emergency Day, on July 22nd. In some areas, activists brought climate clocks from different impacted zones to  different business headquarters, demanding that governments and corporations #ActInTime to deploy the global solutions to meet the climate deadline. This is no time to build walls; we need bridges. Climate change affects us all, no matter where we live.

In Benin, the Regional Youth Climate Camp  was an opportunity for the youth to raise their voices, shake the world awake, and demand urgent action to tackle the pressing climate crisis. The forum aimed to train and share tools for organizing/campaigning on renewable energy, share the key findings of the renewable energy report by 350Africa.org and mark the Global Climate Emergency Day through a peaceful march geared at advocating for development of renewable energy.

Urgent Demands for a Sustainable Future

As the gathering commenced, a clear and unified agenda emerged. Among the demands were:

  1. A call for safe, reliable, and affordable renewable energy:

The quest for safe, reliable, and affordable energy is no longer a luxury but a necessity to safeguard Africa's future. Embracing renewables will not only address the pressing energy needs but also pave the way towards a cleaner, greener continent.

  1. A just transition to address energy needs and catalyze development

By embracing clean energy solutions, Africa can reduce carbon emissions while creating new job opportunities and fostering socio-economic development in the region.

  1. Zero investments in fossil fuels:

Redirecting financial resources towards renewables will accelerate the transition and steer Africa away from its dependence on harmful energy sources.

  1. AfDB's support for 100% renewable energy:

The African Development Bank (AfDB) plays a pivotal role in shaping the continent's energy landscape. Young people call on the AfDB to be at the forefront of renewable energy investment, supporting 100% clean energy projects that can transform Africa's future.

  1. Greater renewable energy ambition and targets in African nation’s NDCs:

Young leaders demand higher renewable energy targets in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of African countries. By setting higher renewable energy targets, countries can pave the way for a greener future thereby pushing the climate agenda forward.

More than 200 activists were trained on organizing for climate solutions and over 500 joined a peaceful march to advocate for renewable energy on Climate Emergency Day. Simultaneously, several groups and civil society organizations from Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and other West African countries joined the movement and organized their own events for more widespread climate education to mobilize global action and foster a culture of sustainability.

 

On climate emergency day, we acknowledge the abundant renewable energy potential in most African nations, offering opportunities for clean energy growth and prosperity to meet the needs of people and economies. Many countries have committed to energy transition plans, moving away from polluting fossil fuels and embracing a sustainable and secure energy future with social and economic benefits. We are joining the calls to end the fossil era before it is too late. The negative socio-economic and environmental impacts of fossil fuels demand urgent action. We call for substantial investment to expedite the implementation of renewable energy solutions. The harmful practices of fossil fuel exploration and production must not shape our continent's or the world's future. As climate impacts worsen, injecting financing into renewable energy becomes critical to support a just transition in Africa” says Christian Hounkannou, Regional Organiser at 350.org.

 

The climate emergency in Africa is not a distant, hypothetical scenario. It's a clear-eyed, science-based reality that demands our immediate attention. The climate clock is racing towards a tipping point. We've got less than 6 years to drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees celsius and rewrite the climate narrative.

The vision of West Africa's youth is clear: to build a 100% renewable energy future. With political will, innovation, collaboration, and determination, West Africa  can achieve a sustainable clean energy future

If you want to join in the fight, check out the resources on our website and help us spread the word on social media platforms with a few messages you can find here .


Post Africa Climate Summit Session in Benin: key outcomes and youth expectations ahead of COP28

On 4-6 September, the Kenyan government hosted the first-ever Africa Climate Summit, which concluded with the release of the African Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action. The Summit gathered around 20,000 delegates including grassroots, and frontline activists to represent the voice of civil society.


As part of the renewable energy debates with experts in the universities,  the Renewable Energy Coalition (REC) members in Benin Republic organised on 23 September a session to highlight the key outcomes of the Africa Climate Summit and the need to massively scale up renewable energy in Africa.

The session took place at the national university of Benin and gathered around fifty young people, journalists, civil society organisations and experts from the ministry of environment. The organisers highlighted some of the positive notes from the African Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change:

  • Accelerate all efforts to reduce emissions to align with goals set forth in the Paris Agreement
  • Honor the commitment to provide $100 billion in annual climate finance, as promised 14 years ago at the Copenhagen conference.
  • Uphold commitments to a fair and accelerated process of phasing down coal, and abolishment of all fossil fuel subsidies.

Then, they reiterated the  will to see more efforts from the African Leaders to increase renewable energy capacity on the continent to address Africa's energy needs and also to mitigate the impacts of climate change.


Together, the participants sang the energy future they want in Africa that should connect to 100% renewable energy instead of being connected to fossil fuels. During the space dedicated for questions-answers, the organisers shared their plan ahead of Power Up to denounce the fossil fuels industry and call for the real Climate Solutions instead of the push for the false Solutions, and the additional funding needed to tackle the climate crisis. 

 

Anas Seko

Renewable Energy Coalition (REC), Benin


Tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030: A Triumph for 1.5 Degrees at COP28

As the dust settles on COP28, climate activists around the world, including those at 350.org, are celebrating a significant step forward in the fight against climate change following the commitment of 130 countries to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 which leads to a reduction of fossil fuel reliance and limitation of global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius .

From November 4 to December 9, 350.org and its partners took to the streets globally under the banner of the "PowerUp", urging governments to triple their investment in renewable energy and demanding that major polluters take responsibility for the damage they've caused. The outcomes of COP28 suggest that these efforts have not been in vain, so let’s keep the momentum going. 

Why 1.5 Degrees Celsius Matters: Let's Keep It Simple

You might have heard about the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, but what does it really mean? In simple terms, it's a crucial threshold set by the international community to limit the rise in global temperatures. Why? Because beyond 1.5 degrees the impacts of climate change become more severe and widespread. We're talking about more intense heat waves, rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and threats to our ecosystems and communities.

Now, imagine a world where we limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius . It's a world where we mitigate the worst effects of climate change, preserving a safer, more stable environment for future generations.

Tripling Renewable Energy Capacity: A Game-Changer

One of the big wins at COP28 is the commitment from 130 countries to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. But why is this so important in the quest to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees?

The answer lies in the source of our energy. Right now, a significant chunk of our power comes from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. These activities release massive amounts of greenhouse gas, trapping heat in the atmosphere and causing global temperatures to rise.

Renewable energy, on the other hand, comes from sources like the sun, wind, water, and geothermal heat. When we invest in these clean and sustainable sources, we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, cutting down the emissions that drive climate change.

Africa gets to play a big role in this clean energy party as it is abundant in renewable energy potential in the form of wind, solar and other sources. Tripling the capacity not only reduces our reliance on fossil fuels but also harnesses Africa’s renewable resources for widespread economic and social development like access to electricity, jobs and better lives. We call on decision makers to invest more money to back up plans to triple renewable energy. This means tripling the money already invested into building solar farms, wind turbines, and other cool stuff that give us access to electricity. It's like having a big toolbox full of cool ways to make power without hurting our planet. To leverage Africa’s potential and realize the tripling of Renewable Energy, substantial funding is required to support the transition. 

The Power of Public Pressure and Activism

The decisions made at COP28 reflect not only the efforts of policymakers but also the power of people coming together to demand change. The PowerUp mobilization, led by 350.org and partners, exemplifies how public pressure can influence political and economic decisions. When we take to the streets, raise our voices, and demand action, decision-makers take notice.

What's Next? Phasing out oil, coal and gas

While the commitment to triple renewable energy capacity is a major step forward, there's more work to be done. The scaling up of RE must also be supported by a resolve and concrete plans for the phase out of all coal, oil and gas. Civil society is calling for COP 28 to deliver on a decision to phase out fossil fuels by 2050, and for this decision to be reflected in the formal outcome of the conference.Why? Because we can’t limit global warming to 1.5 degrees unless we break free from fossil fuels. In addition, it is critical big polluters are held accountable for the damage they've caused and their role in the climate crisis. This means ensuring that those who contributed the most to the problem bear the responsibility of committing finances to supporting the just transition to renewable energy in developing nations, supporting these nations to adapt to climate change and compensating them for the losses suffered. 

As we celebrate the victories at COP28, let's remember that our collective voice and action are powerful tools in the fight against climate change. By continuing to push for bold and ambitious measures, we can create a world where the 1.5 degrees Celsius target is not just an aspiration but a reality, safeguarding the planet for generations to come.


COP28 Takes Historic Step in Addressing Climate Loss and Damage: A Call for Accountability in Africa

In a groundbreaking move at COP28 in Dubai, the international community has taken a significant step towards addressing the profound impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities. The adoption and operationalization of the Loss and Damage (L&D) fund mark a critical milestone in recognizing the urgent need for financial support in regions disproportionately affected by the climate crisis.

Understanding Loss and Damage

We’ve all once heard a story of a family or community losing their lands, crops, homes and loved ones due to the impacts of climate change. Some of those stories tell about heavy rainfalls, coastal erosion, or desertification causing loss and damage. In the climate space, the concept of Loss and Damage acknowledges that some climate change impacts are beyond the scope of adaptation, leading to irreversible losses for communities. From extreme weather events to slow-onset impacts like rising sea levels, vulnerable regions, particularly in Africa, bear the brunt of these consequences. Communities are grappling with economic losses, displacement, and the inability to rebuild in the aftermath of devastating climate events.

Operationalizing the Fund: Hope for Africa

Africa, a continent facing the severe consequences of climate change, stands to benefit significantly from the operationalization of the Loss and Damage fund. The COP28 decision signals a commitment to providing financial assistance and support for African nations grappling with the escalating impacts of climate change. This includes measures to address both immediate and long-term losses, enabling communities to rebuild and adapt to a changing climate.

“The step towards operationalizing the Loss and Damage fund is a promising start to the climate talks. The urgency of the climate crisis requires that we move with speed to translate this to action and work towards the delivery of financing to communities that continue to bear the brunt of the climate crisis in the most climate-vulnerable regions. It is time for big polluters in line with their historic emissions to pay up to deliver justice to those disproportionately affected by their reliance on fossil fuels” says Landry Ninteretse, Director of 350Africa.org

The Call for Accountability

While 350Africa.org appreciates the establishment of the fund, it is concerning that wealthy nations have swiftly attempted to downplay its significance by proposing inadequate contribution thresholds. The requirements of affected communities amount to hundreds of billions, not mere millions. This should be seen as just the beginning, and there is an urgent need for substantial increases in pledges to address the magnitude of the issue.

The international community has taken a commendable step in addressing Loss and Damage yet, but there remains a critical aspect of accountability that must not be overlooked. Big polluters and fossil fuel companies, historically responsible for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions, are called upon to participate in the Loss and Damage fund.

This is not merely a financial contribution; it's a recognition of the need to rectify the historical injustice imposed on vulnerable communities.

As COP28 unfolds in Dubai, the global community must seize the opportunity to set a precedent for corporate responsibility in the face of the climate crisis. The Loss and Damage fund, when supported by major polluters and fossil fuel companies, can become a powerful tool for redressing climate-related injustices and supporting the resilience of communities in Africa and beyond. The world is watching, and the decisions made in Dubai will echo for generations to come. It's time for all stakeholders, including corporate giants, to step up and take responsibility for healing our planet and ensuring a sustainable future for all.


COP28: A Pivotal Moment for Climate Action and Renewable Energy Advocacy

With COP28 happening in Dubai, the urgency to address the escalating climate crisis has never been more palpable. In this pivotal moment, 350.org is at the forefront, urging global leaders to embrace a binding energy package that not only sets ambitious goals but also charts a course for a comprehensive and just transition to renewable energy.

Setting the Stage for a Transformative Energy Package:

The discourse put forth by 350.org calls for a paradigm shift at COP28, one that involves committing to a robust and binding energy package. At the heart of this proposal are ambitious targets:

  • Tripling Renewable Energy Capacity: The call to triple fair, safe, and clean renewable energy capacity by 2030, with a subsequent deployment of 1.5 terawatts per year, marks a watershed moment in our commitment to combating climate change.
  • Doubling Energy Efficiency: Recognizing the intrinsic link between efficiency and sustainability, the proposal to double energy efficiency by 2030 represents a pivotal step towards optimizing communities’ access to affordable and clean energy.
  • Phasing Out Fossil Fuels: The unequivocal call for a complete phase-out of fossil fuels by 2050 signals a paradigm shift in our energy paradigm, emphasizing a commitment to a sustainable future.

The Urgency of a Global Renewable Energy Target:

As climate experts warn that 2023 could be the hottest year on record, the significance of adhering to the 1.5°C global heating limit cannot be overstated. 350.org emphasizes that a global renewable energy target is not merely symbolic; it is a practical necessity. However, the success of such a target hinges on its swift implementation at a global scale, coupled with a commitment to equity. A mere proclamation will not suffice – tangible actions are imperative. 

Navigating Financial Barriers to a Sustainable Future:

Andreas Sieber, 350.org's Associate Director of Global Policy, brings to light the financial complexities that have long hindered the transition to renewable energy, especially in the Global South. Sieber proposes a multi-faceted approach, including debt cancellation, significant concessional finance, and grants to the tune of $200 billion per year. This financial backing is not charity but an essential investment in a just, equitable and sustainable future.

“A renewable energy target at COP28 will only constitute a meaningful step towards climate justice if it is accompanied by a clear roadmap for implementation that includes equitable mechanisms and commitments in the financial and policy realms, as well as an urgent and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels. Without these, any agreement would represent a hollow, ‘easy win’, and risk allowing polluting countries to hide behind a renewables goal while continuing to emit fossil fuels.” Andreas Sieber, 350.org's Associate Director of Global Policy

May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org, underscores the concept of climate justice, asserting that a global renewable energy target should be coupled with commitments to finance a just transition. This involves acknowledging the historical disparities and ensuring that the transition away from fossil fuels is both rapid and equitable.

“COP28 presents an opportunity for a long overdue course correction: a global renewable energy target, poised for adoption, is a crucial step towards limiting global heating to below 1.5 degrees. However, it must come with commitments to finance the just transition in the Global South and a rapid, equitable phase out of fossil fuels. 350.org is at COP28 to ensure climate justice is centered in the negotiations, and working with movement partners on the ground, to ensure the voices of those most impacted by the climate crisis take center stage.”  May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org

Voices from the Frontlines:

In a poignant addition to the narrative, Landry Ninteretse, Regional Director of 350Africa.org, highlights the voices of communities directly impacted by the climate crisis. For these communities, a shift to renewable energy is not a distant goal but an immediate necessity. Ninteretse's call for wealthier nations to expedite their commitment to scaling up renewable energy investments and supporting the tripling of renewable energy capacity by 2030 amplifies the urgency of the situation.

“For communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, an equitable global shift away from fossil fuels to safe and sustainable renewable energy is an absolute necessity, as they have felt the catastrophic climate impacts for decades. At COP 28, we expect leaders to commit to significantly scaling up investment in renewable energy and supporting plans for the tripling of renewable energy capacity by 2030, while prioritizing the phase-out of fossil fuels. Wealthy nations must respond with the scale and urgency that matches the escalating climate crisis by delivering on a clear plan for climate adaptation finance, loss and damage and enhancing the support for African countries to undertake nationally determined just transition pathways.”

Ensuring the success of COP28's proposed energy package requires a multi-faceted approach. Additionally, the organization stresses the importance of relying solely on proven renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar, to guarantee the effectiveness of the proposed measures.


The Journey to Achieving 10% Renewables in Ghana’s energy mix in 2030: RE4CC in the Frontline

Ghana is embracing a renewable energy revolution that is poised to transform the nation's energy landscape. With a resolute commitment to achieving 10% renewable energy in its power generation mix, Ghana is charting a course toward a sustainable and prosperous future. At the forefront of this ambitious endeavor is the Renewable Energy for Communities Coalition (RE4CC), a dynamic alliance of civil societies dedicated to driving Ghana's transition to clean, reliable, and affordable energy sources. 

In this article, we embark on an investigative journey of Ghana's renewable energy sector. From the challenges of energy access to the legal framework supporting renewable energy and the grassroots community engagement spearheaded by RE4CC, we delve into the stories that illuminate Ghana's path toward a greener and brighter tomorrow.

The situation of energy access in Ghana

The situation of energy access in Ghana is a tale of two realities. While the urban areas of the country boast relatively high rates of electricity access, with over 87% of the population having reliable power, the story takes a different turn when we venture into rural communities. In these remote areas, nearly half of the population still lacks access to electricity, leaving them in the shadows of energy poverty.

This glaring disparity in energy access poses significant challenges to the development and well-being of rural communities. Without electricity, schools struggle to provide quality education, healthcare facilities are limited in their capabilities, and economic opportunities remain constrained. Basic daily tasks become burdensome, with households relying on traditional and inefficient sources of energy such as kerosene lamps and woods for cooking.

The lack of energy access not only hinders the progress of individuals and communities but also perpetuates inequalities and widens the gap between urban and rural areas. It is a pressing issue that calls for urgent action to bridge the energy divide and provide equal opportunities for all Ghanaians.

Recognizing the critical importance of energy access for socio-economic development, the Ghanaian government, along with various stakeholders, is spearheading initiatives to expand electricity coverage to rural communities. The goal is to ensure that every Ghanaian, regardless of their location, has access to reliable and affordable electricity.

One of the strategies employed is the expansion of the national power grid, extending its reach to previously underserved areas. This involves infrastructure development, including constructing transmission lines, substations, and distribution networks. Through these efforts, the government aims to connect rural communities to the main grid, providing them with a reliable source of electricity.

However, extending the power grid to remote areas can be challenging due to geographical constraints, logistical complexities, and high costs. In some cases, it may not be feasible or cost-effective to rely solely on grid extension. Therefore, alternative approaches are being explored, with a particular emphasis on decentralized and off-grid solutions.

Renewable energy technologies, such as solar power and small-scale hydroelectric systems, are playing a crucial role in bridging the energy access gap in Ghana.

The legal framework of RE in Ghana

To bridge that gap, Ghana has made significant strides in establishing a robust legal framework to promote and support the development of renewable energy. Recognizing the importance of renewable energy in achieving sustainable development goals and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, the government has enacted several laws and regulations to provide a conducive environment for renewable energy investments and operations.

The cornerstone of Ghana's legal framework for renewable energy is the Renewable Energy Act of 2011 (Act 832). This legislation serves as the primary law governing the development, management, utilization, and supply of renewable energy for power generation and other related purposes. The Renewable Energy Act aims to create an enabling environment that attracts investments in the renewable energy sector, supports renewable energy projects, and promotes the use of renewable energy technologies.

However, despite this law, in 2018, the percentage of renewable energy in the energy mix remained less than 2%. This objective of generating 10% of renewable energy in the national energy mix was then pushed back to 2030. While Ghana's legal framework for renewable energy is comprehensive, challenges and gaps still exist.

Power up Ghana with RE 

Access to reliable and affordable electricity remains a pressing challenge in Ghana. While significant progress has been made, millions of Ghanaians still lack access to this essential resource. The lack of energy access hampers socio-economic development limits educational opportunities, and restricts productivity.

Renewable energy emerges as a game-changer, capable of propelling Ghana's progress and bridging the energy access gap. Blessed with abundant solar, wind, hydro, and biomass resources, the nation stands at the precipice of a renewable energy revolution that promises to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and extend the transformative power of electricity to even the remotest corners.

Solar energy, with its unlimited potential, is illuminating previously dark corners of the country. Remote communities, schools, and healthcare centers are embracing solar power, enabling access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. Hydroelectric power, a long-standing pillar of Ghana's energy infrastructure, continues to play a vital role, leveraging the nation's water resources to generate clean and reliable electricity. The fusion of traditional and emerging renewable energy sources sets the stage for a diverse and resilient energy mix.

RE4CC in the frontline

The RE4CC (Renewable Energy for Communities Coalition) is at the forefront of Ghana's renewable energy revolution. This coalition brings together various stakeholders, including civil society organizations, community leaders, and renewable energy experts, with a common goal of accelerating the deployment of renewable energy solutions across the country. 

RE4CC acts as a catalyst for change, advocating for policies that promote renewable energy, raising awareness about the benefits of clean energy, and promoting community-centered renewable energy projects such as Renewable Energy for Schools, and Renewable Energy for Communities. 

Launched after the victory to stop the construction of the 700 MW coal-powered station in Ekumfi Regional and Central region of Ghana, the campaign tries to get the Ghanaian government to commit to investing in renewable energy as a solution to Ghana’s energy challenges. The campaign also runs awareness-raising actions on the benefits of renewable energy getting guidance from the Renewable Energy Act of Ghana and manifestos from the presidential election. Indeed, great work on influencing and lobbying has been done so far. In 2017, one of the leading CSO of the RE4C coalition reviewed the RE Act making their input and suggestions back to parliament under the REact initiative. 

As Ghanaians, things have to be spicy sometimes. In 2022, the coalition organized a procession in which they used the launch of the IPCC solutions and adaptation report to call for implementing the RE Act plans to ensure Ghana minimizes its NDCs and that the government commits to its promise of more renewable energy in the energy mix. They walked on the street to educate the public on the release of the IPCC report on solutions and adaptation and why it’s important for Ghana to choose Renewable Energy and provide Solutions.


By fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing, the RE4C coalition is empowering communities to take ownership of their energy future and actively participate in the transition to a sustainable and resilient energy system.

Communities at the center:

Rural women play a key role in supporting their households and communities in achieving food and nutrition security, generating income, and improving rural livelihoods and the overall well-being of the family and community. In July 2022, the RE4C team visited Apam in the central region of Kukurantumi in the eastern region of Ghana to train women and girls on the impacts of climate change and the need to champion the use of renewable energy in their districts. 

While education is the key to human capital development, in some remote areas, school-going children still lack access to electricity to learn at night. That situation prompted the implementation of the Solar for School project in St Louis senior high school in the Ashanti region to on one hand distribute solar kits and on the other, educate students on climate change, renewable energy, as well as the need for them to take the lead and become renewable energy agents of change that can drive the coalition’s vision of a 100% Renewables in Ghana.  

Through training, exhibition, processions, advocacy, and policy review, the RE4C team created a platform for women and young people to become Renewable Energy Champions to enhance the achievement of 10% Renewable energy in Ghana’s energy mix in 2030.


#AfrikaVukaNews: New year and re-energized in our pursuit for climate justice

As we leap into the month of February we hope that this last month, since we started the new year, has been good to you and that you are still staying safe and healthy.

We continuously acknowledge that many communities across the world are still experiencing the adverse effects of climate change and are working hard to rebuild what has been lost. We stand in solidarity with them and hope that this year, the AfrikaVuka Newsletter will continue to inspire more people in the world to stand up to the fossil fuel industry to build a sustainable future.

AfrikaVuka believes in unity and with this new year, this new chapter, the words of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu continues to echo in our hearts, saying:

“We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God's family.” 

In Case You Missed It

Nigeria Climate Bill: On Thursday, 18 November 2021, Nigeria’s President Muhammad Buhari signed into law the climate change bill passed by the national assembly. This comes after the country's announcement of working towards a 2060 net-zero target at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.

Nigeria now joins an elite group of countries that have enacted emissions-target legislation aiming to curb carbon emissions. The new climate change law is significant in many ways as it sends a strong positive message to the world that Nigeria understands the enormity and urgency of resolving the current climate crisis.

San Pedro coal-fired power plant: Communities of San Pedro, Côte d'Ivoire, local and global environmental civil society, have been fighting for years for the cancellation of the controversial San Pedro coal-fired power plant project. These communities are now demanding an official statement from the government to confirm if the Ivorian government is serious about abandoning the project. The announcement to abandon the project was reportedly made on November 18th by the Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development speaking to parliamentarians during the budget session. 

 

#StopEACOP: The #StopEACOP (East African Crude Oil Pipeline) Campaign started the year with a bang with activists from Uganda and Tanzania crossing the oceans to France on a quest to denounce the involvement of the French oil giant, TotalEnergies, in the EACOP project and its related activities. In a ceremony meant to celebrate the city of Grenoble as Europe’s Green Capital, activists called out the irony of the award when the most ecologically destructive project is organized in the same country. The activists protested at various TotalEnergies gas stations and organized street marches as well as challenged the leaders of the country to take action and stop the EACOP project.

You can continue to show your support by writing to the banks most likely to consider financing the pipeline. Together we can #StopEACOP and create a just and sustainable economic future. 

One to Watch

 

2022 - Hope Needs Action 

As we review 2021, we cannot help but be amazed at some of the epic wins, and very insightful learnings on events and campaigns that are important to stopping the climate crisis. Through these, we will continue to raise our voices and stand against climate justice.