South Africa’s Daily Maverick: Morocco is ‘The Face of Modern Africa’
CAF Executive Committee Appoints Fouzi Lekjaa CAF’s 2nd Vice President
Maximising results of scientific research main challenge for Tunisian businesses
Mandela Day a reminder of ethical leadership
Nigeria Woos Foreign Investors at Forum in China
Kenya: President Kenyatta Set to Open Lake Turkana Wind Power
Seychelles' Capital to Renew Twinning Relationship with Meizhou, China
The Herald – Zimbabwe
Sifelani Tsiko Environment, Agric & Innovations Editor
Plans by Government to craft incentives to promote investments into solar energy will certainly boost the country’s set targets to increase the use of renewable energy for heating and electricity and reduce carbon emissions.
By 2030, Zimbabwe needs to achieve universal access to sustainable energy through the wider promotion of the adoption of renewable sources such as solar panels, wind farms or hydroelectric dams.
This will help to reduce pressure on main Zesa electricity grid and enable Zimbabwe to make huge savings on energy import costs, achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on energy and contribute towards Vision 2030.
Under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), Government identifies solar as an alternative source of power, particularly for rural households in off-grid areas and seeks adoption of renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy collected from renewable resources such as sunlight, waste, wind, water and geothermal heat, are some of the options that the country can harness.
Power shortages, the need to adopt cleaner and efficient systems, SDG targets on energy and our dream to be a middle-income economy by 2030 all highlight the importance of adopting renewable energy as a national strategy.
Given the gravity of the energy crisis facing the country, it is heartening to hear that the Government is mulling to craft incentives that could spurt the rapid adoption of renewable energy.
“We don’t make solar panels or any other solar equipment, so they have to be bought at those (obtaining) prices,” Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi was quoted as saying recently.
“But what we are actively looking at now is how we can incentivise investments into solar. So, we are currently looking at that. Once we are clear on the incentive, we will then be able to communicate to the public.”
Incentives could be made through a number of arrangements for households, businesses and investors.
A variety of incentives and subsidies could help drive down the price of commercial electricity from the main Zesa grid, spur the adoption of renewable energy through off-grid systems and enhance the universal access to energy by the majority of the poor.
The cost of upgrading from the current Zesa-dependent electricity systems, gas and firewood to installing green power technology is very expensive.
Most of the components and equipment for solar and other green energy systems are imported.
Removal of import duty and other retail line taxes could encourage more people to sign up to the green energy system.
Energy experts at the Clean Energy Solutions Centre say financial incentives have been widely implemented by governments around the world to support scaled up deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and practices.
In a report, the experts say as of 2015, at least 48 countries had adopted financial incentives to support renewable energy and energy efficiency deployment.
Zimbabwe’s broader clean energy strategies and plans should provide a crucial foundation for the incentives that often complement regulatory policies such as renewable energy targets, standards and other mandates.
It is vital for Zimbabwe to take lessons from different country experiences, SADC renewable energy protocols and other institutions to come up with an informed and country-specific financial incentive design.
“Financial incentives can address various barriers to renewable energy and energy efficiency technology deployment,” the Clean Energy Solutions Centre says.
“For instance, financial incentives can improve access to capital, reduce the burden of high upfront costs, lower financing costs, support creation of new markets, and address split incentives associated with energy-efficient technologies.”
“Common renewable energy and energy efficiency financial incentives used to address these challenges include tax measures, rebates, grants and performance-based incentives and loan programmes, guarantees, and credit enhancements.”
With the country’s main power utility, Zesa, struggling to provide adequate connections to growing demand in both rural and urban areas, Zimbabwe should push aggressively for new off-grid solutions to help the country achieve universal access to sustainable energy by 2030.
The country’s sole power utility is short on cash for power imports and for technological upgrades since it charges under-market prices and relies heavily on obsolete equipment.
Adopting a series of new policies and plans to push for new off-grid solutions which can lead to a rapid expansion of the national grid to most remote parts of the country which are yet to be connected, is now urgent.
Mobilising funding options from both local entities and development partners could help enhance the establishment of micro-grids in most communities that are still unconnected.
The country needs to scale up its own investments on solar power micro-grids, seek to build technical partnerships with development partners as well as elicit political capital to support the rolling out of such electrification programmes.
Incentives could be the vital cog to all this.
Already, the Ministry of Energy and Power Development reports that more than 10 000 solar home systems have been installed country-wide while 400 mini-grids have been set up at rural schools and clinics.
Significant strides have been made to promote other alternative energy sources such as biogas.
Government, with the support of international partners, has also invested significantly into the Kariba expansion helping to increase the hydropower station’s generational capacity from 750MW to 1 050MW in 2017.
However, the country has failed to realise this full generational capacity of the Kariba power plant due to a drought which as affected water levels.
It is becoming clearer that the country needs to do more to invest in green energy and other improved cooking stove technologies to reduce land degradation and deforestation.
Promoting the development of more solar mini-grids will provide affordable and accessible energy supplies with long-term energy security.
It will contribute to job creation, food security, water availability, improved livelihoods and competitiveness of rural informal industry.
Renewable energy is firmly increasing its share on the global energy market and Zimbabwe needs light regulatory frameworks and remove burdensome procedures that could slow the uptake of renewable energy.
Offering incentives can encourage wider use and help secure the necessary investments in the renewable energy projects.
Renewable energy has a key role to play in mitigating climate change and guaranteeing long-term energy supply.
And climate change and energy security concerns should compel the Government to provide incentives for investments in renewable energy.
All this should help Zimbabwe meet some of the its obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change which it ratified in 2017.
Under the Agreement, the country is obliged to take steps to cut the emission of climate-warming gases like carbon dioxide and methane.
Some analysts, however, say the country should consider the downside of some of the incentives that could be crafted on some of the provisions of the World Trade Organisation.
They say when crafting the incentives, Zimbabwe should examine the legality of some renewable energy incentive mechanisms under WTO dispute settlement system framework.
Trade-related aspects of renewable energy incentives should not be a sticking point if there is wider consultation among all key stakeholders in the country’s energy sector.
If all problematic aspects are fully addressed, then Zimbabwe should be on course to achieving its Vision 2030 and other goals that seek to enhance access to energy, education, health, food security, industrialisation and an improved quality of life.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
Priyal Singh Correspondent
Recent developments around Sudan’s transfer of political power show why a more strategic partnership between the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), especially at the council levels, matters. Discord between the security councils of both bodies reveals fault lines in their efforts to stabilise Sudan.
On July 5 a shaky preliminary power-sharing agreement was reached between Sudan’s Transitional Military Council and the country’s civilian leaders. The UN Security Council (UNSC) and AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) now have a significant opportunity to forge a joint strategy to support the Sudanese people. Both councils have unique political entry points and a history of working on different aspects of Sudan’s instability.
The provisional arrangement was partly facilitated through AU mediation efforts spearheaded by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. It followed months of civil unrest, a coup d’état, atrocities committed against civilians by Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces, and a breakdown in communication and trust between civilian protesters and the military junta.
Throughout the latest crisis, the PSC has been responsive to developments on the ground. It has issued at least four key communiqués since 19 April condemning the Transitional Military Council’s actions and calling for power to be vested in a transitional civilian-led political authority.
Discord between the UNSC and PSC reveals fault lines in their efforts to stabilise Sudan
On June 6 Sudan was suspended from all AU activities. The continental body’s credibility was further bolstered by the PSC’s rejection of a Transitional Military Council decree calling for the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to hand over its assets to the Rapid Support Forces.
Importantly, the three African member states (A3) on the UNSC have remained united in their support of positions stemming from the PSC, and a joint media stakeout on June 6 was one of the first times the A3 provided such an assertive statement on a country-specific situation. This collective approach is encouraging given the generally weak historical institutional links between the A3 and the PSC.
However, numerous fault lines have emerged between the UNSC and PSC since April, showing that more meaningful cooperation is needed. One key challenge is how the councils understand the relationship between Sudan’s current political crisis and the scheduled withdrawal of UNAMID. The A3’s position has largely reflected that of other UNSC members, notably the United States, France and the United Kingdom. But Russia and China have opposing views in line with their position of non-interference in member states’ internal affairs.
The A3’s firm stance on UNAMID has placed greater pressure on UNSC members to compromise and align their positions more closely with the PSC. The A3’s bridging role between the two councils has been much more apparent throughout the Sudan crisis than on any other recent council matters.
One challenge is how the PSC and UNSC understand the link between Sudan’s crisis and UNAMID’s withdrawal
The UNSC divisions were reflected in negotiations leading up to UNAMID’s mandate renewal on June 27. The compromises that had to be made are evident in Resolution 2479 (2019) which extends UNAMID’s mandate for four months as opposed to standard council practice of one year. Nevertheless, the resolution does underscore a prevailing, albeit fragile, consensus that Sudan’s fluid and tenuous political environment necessitates a temporary pause on UNAMID’s planned draw-down.
Another challenge for the UNSC and PSC surrounds the influence of states that have vested political interests in Sudan and the outcomes of the peace process.
Since April, there has been a perception that PSC and joint AU-Ethiopian mediation efforts have been undermined by a Regional Partners of the Sudan meeting in Cairo. This meeting sought to extend the Transitional Military Council’s deadline for transferring power to a civilian authority. In cases such as this, states must be seen as potential spoilers of the July 5 provisional agreement.
The next few months provide a vital window of opportunity to address instability in Sudan. Resolution 2479 asked the UN Secretary-General and the AU Commission to provide the UNSC with a joint AU-UN political strategy for a follow-up mechanism to UNAMID by September 30.
The A3’s bridging role between the UNSC and PSC has been clearer on Sudan than any other matter
This strategy should consider the impact of ongoing instability in Khartoum and how the transitional government will re-engage with the Darfur peace process. The terms of the July 5 agreement are relevant too. They provide for the establishment of a joint sovereign council led, at first, by a military leader for 21 months, then a civilian leader for 18 months, before democratic elections are held.
The AU and UN councils must carefully monitor whether this provisional agreement is respected once it is accepted by the conflicting parties. They also need to check for signs that the Transitional Military Council won’t renege on its obligation to transfer power to civilian leadership by January 2021.
Addressing these issues won’t be easy, but the chances of success will be greater if the UNSC and PSC work together. It is already clear that when the PSC stands firm on principle, the A3 is better able to serve as a bridge between the two councils, and promote greater institutional coherence.
A scheduled council-to-council working visit in Addis Ababa in October is an important occasion to strengthen this critical working relationship, and offset challenges caused by power imbalances between the two bodies. Sudan presents a key opportunity for both sides to harmonise their efforts, based on a mutual understanding of how to manage the crisis. This window of opportunity cannot be squandered, least of all by concerned multilateral actors.