Sustainable Energy for a Prosperous Future
African countries need sustainable energy development because it will decrease dependence on fossil fuels, improve the environment, create jobs, and attract more investment. Building a sustainable energy infrastructure in Africa is perhaps the single most important foundational component to building a better future for all Africans. It will also significantly help the rest of the world by removing Africa as a continual flashpoint for civil wars and authoritarian regimes. Building an African middle class will do more for global peace and prosperity than many other international projects one can think of.
While African countries may not have the capital required to quickly build a sustainable energy infrastructure, China, and other rich countries, despite their many economic troubles, do. In the end, the speed, quality, and cost of building a sustainable energy future in Africa depend on how African countries negotiate terms for investment in sustainable energy.
A paper, “Towards an Energizing Partnership? Exploring China’s Role as Catalyst of Renewable Energy Development in Africa,” elucidates the motives for China’s interests in Africa and ways in which China’s interest can be leveraged to promote renewable energy in Africa.
The History of Negotiating with the Chinese
China often earns the bad rap it gets from domestic and international critics. Chief among China’s transgressions are a deplorable human rights record at home and in Nepal and an environmental record measured in human and environmental destruction and death. Coupled with this is a political system that quashes any dissent that might move Chinese society in a better direction. So what track record does China have to placate fears that deals with the Chinese will continue to be one-sided? The answer is that there is no track record, and African countries must carry out reforms that give them more leverage when they get to the negotiating table.
What African Countries Are Doing
Clearly, the onus is on African countries and their leaderships to design and implement fair but firm policy measures to promote renewable energy projects. At the same time, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) must continue to promote measures that will lead to better projects and better terms for African countries when they conduct negotiations with the Chinese.