NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 28 – African countries have been challenged to invest in new energy technology that will enable them to address their major environmental problems and thus spur development.
United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Director General Dr Kandeh Yumkella argued on Monday that while the continent was not to blame for the onset of the climate change, it was grappling with the adverse effects caused by environmental degradation thus the need to develop green and cleaner energy.
“There is a new green industrial revolution that is unfolding and which has two critical pillars; one being the need for new systems that are based on renewable energy and cleaner production and also the optimising water use,” the DG said while calling for the implementation of long term interventions.
He said this production was particularly critical for Africa which is considered ‘energy poor’.
For instance, it is estimated that the energy per capita in Africa is 81 Kilowatt per person compared to 8000 KW in America.
However, Mr Yumkella pointed that that ICT was a key driver of these new sources of energy as it would among other things ensure that power is utilised efficiently and effectively.
“Software and Computer companies are part of this revolution because they use a lot of energy and also because the solutions we need require fast calculations and fast computing to connect energy demand to the supply,” he said during the sidelines of the third European Union/ Africa Business Forum in Nairobi.
He further called on the youth to be part of this digital revolution that will look for ways to curb the challenges.
“This is your generation but you will pay the price for climate change as it is happening in Kenya. So you want to know the solutions, you want to know the technology that can bring these solutions,” he urged.
To ensure that ICT is available to majority of Africans, Mr Yumkella said UNIDO had partnered with Microsoft to provide a link for the rural communities to the global information system.
Training of these people and ‘computer rehabilitation’ are other ways that have been identified as central to improving access to people and increasing ICT usage and penetration in rural Africa.
Since the pilot program was started in Uganda, over 10,000 computers have been reconditioned, installed with the latest software and sold all over Africa for about Sh1000.
The development of the green energy would also assist in the creation of jobs which would eventually contribute to the generation of wealth.
“You cannot reduce poverty without growth which has to be driven by the private sector,” Mr Yumkella said. He reiterated the need for good governance which would go a long way in ensuring that the continent becomes competitive.