It’s unacceptable sunniest nations to yearn for power


LAST Sunday, 62-member-countries of International Solar Alliance (ISA) adopted the ‘Delhi Solar Agenda’ that seeks to raise the share of solar power in their energy basket so as to mitigate climate change and provide clean, affordable electricity to the underprivileged.

That happened during the opening of ISA founding conference co-chaired by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron and attended by heads of state of 23 countries and ministerial representatives from 10 other nations. ISA, a brainchild of the Indian leader, is a non-profit treaty-based group of 121 countries that seeks to promote the use of solar energy.

It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit, and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015. The heads of states and other participants of the summit put their heads together to discuss the ISA’s goal of making solar power, technology, and financing more accessible to different countries most of them located between the tropics - which enjoy an abundance of sunshine that can be harnessed for producing clean and affordable power.

We support the call by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda for increased adoption of more affordable and reliable solar energy through improved technology. It is indeed true that clean energy must be reliable, affordable and sustainable to be adopted and provide meaningful results in effort to mitigate climate change impacts.

It is therefore imperative that those advances in solar energy production must be matched by the development of batteries capable of storing it and smart grids to distribute it to customers.

While we share President Kagame’s views that it is an unacceptable irony that the sunniest countries on Earth are desperately short of electricity, we call on the countries in East Africa region to prepare policies and environment to hasten exploitation of the huge potential for the solar energy business for the benefit of the people of the region. We think that will be possible as solar energy production may not require large-scale infrastructural projects and investments.

However, it should be borne in mind that for renewable energy projects to work systematically, they must provide their customers mostly rural dwellers and the poor, the same coverage and quality as on-the-grid electricity.

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