As it converts to sustainable energy, Africa has both big obstacles and enormous opportunity.

Many African countries will benefit from the clean energy transition because it will allow them to bypass traditional fuels and infrastructure and focus instead on developing sustainable energy systems. However, they will require international assistance, particularly to attract the necessary investments.

Ministers and stakeholders from around Africa gathered in Paris today for an event hosted by the International Energy Agency to discuss their perspectives on Africa’s energy objectives and problems. Tinne Van der Straeten, Belgium’s Minister of Energy, presided over the event, which was held before of the IEA’s Ministerial Meeting in 2022.

Participants in today’s event agreed that stronger international action is needed to address existing barriers to clean energy investment and promote capital deployment across the continent, following the COP26 Climate Change Conference last November – and ahead of COP27, which Egypt will host later this year.

Africa, which is home to one-sixth of the world’s population, is already one of the world’s most affected regions by climate change. Despite this, it consumes less than 6% of global energy and emits less than 2% of total global emissions. A comparable imperative confronts the continent: providing power access to hundreds of millions of residents who are now without it, which would spur economic growth and aid in the achievement of sustainable development goals.

At the same time, Africa has the potential to play a key role in the transition to a net-zero energy future for the world’s energy systems. The continent’s diverse geography provides enormous potential for solar and wind energy, and its soils contain many of the minerals and rare earths required for renewable energy technologies.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has long had a specific interest in Africa, notably in terms of its work on energy access challenges. According to the Agency’s report, energy investments in Africa generally have substantially higher financing costs than equivalent projects in developed markets due to perceived risks. The IEA aims to release its newest Africa Energy Outlook study later this year, which will focus on this problem in particular ahead of COP27.

Following today’s event, Minister Van der Straeten recommended that the IEA deepen its engagement with Africa to identify practical steps that industry, governments, and international organizations can take to lower the cost of energy investments while focusing on the technologies best suited to Africa.

On the 23rd and 24th of March, the IEA Ministerial Meeting 2022 will be held in Paris, with the topic of advancing global action on clean energy and energy security. Jennifer M. Granholm, the US Secretary of Energy, serves as its chairperson. Ministers from IEA Member, Association, and Accession countries, as well as other key partners, will be in attendance, as will top executives from business, finance, and civil society.