About 200 African civil society organisations have condemned European countries for allegedly manipulating and compromising the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).
The civil society groups’ grouse is that at a recent board meeting, France and the European Commission abused their position as donors to override the views of several Africans on the AREI board, by announcing and pushing through approval of 19 projects that were not subject to AREI evaluation criteria or social, environmental and gender safeguards.
The initiative was launched in 2015 in Paris during COP21 as an African-led initiative with the goal of providing at least 10 GW of new renewable energy to Africa’s peoples by 2020, and put the continent on course to add at least another 300 GW and achieve universal access to energy for all Africans by 2030.
It was supported by $10 billion in pledges for 2015-2020 by developed countries in Paris, and has been hailed as a groundbreaking effort to bring clean, affordable, and reliable energy to millions of people in a democratic, human-rights focused approach.
A letter signed by almost 200 African civil society organisations demanded: “that African countries immediately take action to put AREI back on track and ensure full independence from donors and other third parties.
Similarly, all further funding and proposed projects be genuinely “new and additional,” with no more accounting tricks; AREI be fully accountable, transparent and participatory for African states and for civil society in all aspects; and that active participation by all civil society constituencies be ensured at all levels of AREI
The Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action-Nigeria, Dr. Godwin Ojo said: “AREI is one of the major legacies from COP21 in Paris and gives us all hope. Yet France and the European Commission’s heavy-handed efforts in AREI place this legacy at risk and undermine trust in the UN climate change process to deliver real solutions for our peoples, and in Europe as a genuine partner for sustainable development in Africa.”
According to Mithika Mwende of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, “AREI has been a great example of African leadership in rising above political stalemates to tackle the climate crisis. Now the EU is claiming credit for the hard work of African peoples and governments, while at the same time making it harder for AREI to hit its targets of delivering 300 GW of new renewable power by 2030.”
For Rhoda Boateng of the International Trade Union Confederation-Africa, “European donors know how to talk the talk but do they know how to walk the walk? If the latest developments are anything to go by, they don’t. A just transition to clean, affordable, democratic energy requires billions – billions, which were promised but which we are now told will appear by magic as a result of a much smaller investment of a few hundred million. People in Africa need concrete investments in renewable energy, not a lottery ticket.”