1. The purpose of this concept document is to propose a side event during the Multi-Stakeholder Forum for Science, Technology and Innovation on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be held in New York from 3 to 4 May 2023. The side event will focus on how energy transition and security can serve as a catalyst for Africa’s accelerated economic development while meeting the obligations of climate change and the Paris Agreement.  The side event will also explore the role that the diaspora should play in achieving these objectives. It is envisaged that South Africa will support this side event, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), relevant divisions of the African Union Commission (to be consulted), and a few countries that will be approached to co-host the side event.


  1. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), access to energy remains a an essential pillar of efforts to reduce poverty and support economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.  Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of people that do not have access to electricity in the world in 2019 were from sub-Saharan Africa.  Given this reality, it is not a coincidence that the ninth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD), that was held in Niger (Niamey) from 28 February to 2 March 2023 lamented that Africa was unfortunately not on track to achieve SDG 7 targets (Affordable and clean energy) targets.  
  1. Furthermore, the situation will not be made easier by the expected and rapid population growth and further exercebated by accelerated urbanisation.  For example, one in two people added to the global population between now and 2040 is expected to be African.  These factors will have profound implications for the energy sector as they will put more pressure on reliable and sustainable supply of energy; to drive Africa’s economic development but also to provide modern energy services to approximately 600 million Africans that are currently living without electricity.  Climate change induced heatwaves will similarly put pressure on energy as approximately 500 million of people in Africa particularly those living in cities are expected to live in areas that will need some form of cooling.  Overall, energy demand in Africa is expected to grow twice as fast the global average.
  1. The Sharm El Sheikh conference on climate change called upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, while providing targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable in line with national circumstances and recognizing the need for support towards a just transition.  
  1. In addition, the conference emphasized the urgent need for immediate, deep, rapid and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions by Parties across all applicable sectors, including through increase in low-emission and renewable energy, just energy transition partnerships and other cooperative actions.  It further stressed the importance of enhancing a clean energy mix, including low-emission and renewable energy, at all levels as part of diversifying energy mixes and systems in line with national circumstances and recognizing the need for support towards just transitions.  
  1. Regrettably for Africa, while Africa has the richest solar resources in the world, but it only accounts for only 5 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar PV; which is less than 1% of the global installed capacity.  This is despite the fact that Africa has all the resources needed for the various renewable energies, such as the materials needs to make batteries, solar panels and electrical components, sun, water and wind resources that have already been mapped.  Africa has not been able to take advantage of these opportunities because it lacks clear energy policies, market incentives, human and institutional capacity amongst others.  
  1. Africa’s low levels of installed solar PV unfortunately appears not to be consistent with the excitement around green energy that has been gaining traction globally.  There has also been similar interest in green hydrogen lately, with the World Economic Forum in November 2020 naming green hydrogen as one of the top ten emerging technologies.  That signifies the level of interest on this type of technology across the board.  It must be noted as well that green hydrogen is seen as one of the main pathways for the energy transition.
  1. The African Union has various strategies on Energy Development Strategies and Initiatives for Africa designed to increase energy access to African people, improve livelihoods and ensure environmental sustainability.  Needless to say, these strategies require support, both in terms of finances and technical capacity.  The Sharm El Sheikh conference highlighted that an amount of USD 4 trillion per year would have to be invested in renewable energy up until 2030 in order to be able to realise net zero emissions by 2050.  
  1. Despite being home to 17% of the world’s population, Africa currently accounts for just 4% of the global power supply investment.  According to the IEA, achieving reliable electricity supply would require an almost fourfold increase.  This sentiment was echoed by the High-Level Forum on Financing Energy Transition in Africa that was organized by the African Union Commission and the IEA in Sharm El Sheikh.
  1. Article 3 of the Protocol on Amendments of the Constitutive Act of the African Union regognises the important role the African Diaspora has to play in the development of the continent.  It commits the African Union to invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of the continent, in building of the African Union.
  1. Against this backdrop, amongst the key messages that emerged from the ARFSD includes:
  • Enhancing investment in projects to exploit African energy resources, including new and renewable clean sources of energy;
  • Employing innovative and effective approaches, and collaborate with partners, including the United Nations and other development actors, to address data gaps, the limited capacity of many stakeholders and other key challenges.  In this regard, it is worth mentioning African Diaspora as one of the stakeholders;
  • Collaborate to ensure investment in strong grids, digitalisation, innovative technologies, system flexibility and cross-border power systems which are essential for addressing energy access challenges, building resilience, ensuring energy security and responding to climate change in Africa;
  • Support for the continent’s development and use of green hydrogen, which must benefit the continent first and foremost, avoiding a merely extractive and export oriented arrangement.
  • Empower the universities and research centres to develop educational programmes to quality build human capital base for renewable energy
  • Develop specialized national and/or regional renewable research, development and innovation centres to fully participate in the rapidly growing renewable energy market worth $2 trillion by 2030 and bring innovative and useful solutions to the public.
  • Put in place favourable renewable energy policies with adequate resources and market incentives to encourage investor, innovators and entreprenuers to enter the sector.
  1. In light of the above, it is proposed that a side event be held to interogate how energy transition and security can serve as a catalyst for Africa’s accelerated economic development while meeting the obligations of climate change and the Paris Agreement.  The side event will also explore the role that the diaspora should play in achieving these objectives. The objective of the event would be to share perspectives from different stakeholders with a view to:
    1. Discuss and identify key interventions that are needed to accelerate energy transition and security in Africa;
    2. Analyse the potential future of green hydrogen in Africa and related spill-over to the economy;
    3. The role of the African Diaspora in dealing with the energy challenges facing Africa;
    4. The means of implementation and financial partners to support energy transition and security in Africa;
    5. Share experiences and best practices with other stakeholders and countries on energy transition;
  1. It is proposed that South Africa together with other partner countries that will sponsor the event, UNECA, and the African Union Commission take part during the side event. The side event will focus, among others, the following thematic areas:
  • Is Africa ready to implement and accelerate energy transition and security measures?
  • A reflection on global trends in energy transition and security;
  • The role of the African Diaspora;
  • Perspectives from potential funders and Multilateral Development Banks;
  • Perspectives from African country partners.



Date: 3 May 2023

Time: 08:15 – 09:30 (New York time)

Programme Director: Ms Mmampei Chaba







Opening and background

Jean-Paul Adam: Director for Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Management (UNECA)



Keynote adress

Minister (RSA)



Africa’s readiness to achieve energy transition and security and the role of the African Diaspora




Perspectives from Namibia: Is Green Hydrogen the future



Ten minutes





Reflections from the private sector and funders



Ten minutes

Reflections from the Diaspora








Closing and next steps

Ms Mmampei Chaba




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