The goal of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energies is one of the priorities on practically all international agendas. The search for green energy sources is a pillar of evolution which, as has been stressed throughout various presentations at the Africa Spain Cooperation Summit, must always bear in mind the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This reference established by the United Nations marks the path that many intend to follow and which is gaining more and more weight on the African continent.
This was explained by the speakers who addressed the energy issue in the presentation entitled “The renewable energy sector and the environmental footprint”. A round table moderated by Jon Marx and made up of Rafael Morales-Rodríguez, from the company Abengoa, David Goray, Indegate; Tamsir Ndiaye, general manager of ANE in Senegal; and Abdou Diop from Mazars. All of them focused on the importance of renewable energies, but at the same time on the help that the use of fossil fuels can provide in the search for green energy sources to take over from fossil fuels.
Although “we are not advancing as fast as we would like”, as Rafael Morales-Rodríguez stated, the results are coming gradually. It is a complex change, a transition in which it is necessary to count on a large number of actors to make a change in the entire energy structure possible. This is why, perhaps, on some occasions, attempts have been made to go faster than is really possible if progress is to be made steadily and, above all, without mistakes. This is also due to the urgent need to replace fossil fuels that are far from guaranteeing energy security in the near future.
However, as David Garay explained, one of the aspects that give cause for optimism is that “renewable energies are at the top of any country’s priorities”. In addition, according to Garay, Africa has a good starting point for a new energy structure centred on green energy, whereas in Europe the change is more costly. The complex energy system that sustains the Old Continent represents a challenge for Europeans, whereas Africa is beginning to build an infrastructure that can take advantage of renewable energies from the outset and make its system more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Abdou Diop focused his speech on how countries use the energy available to them. Morocco, where he carries out a large part of his activity with the company Mazars, “we are looking at how to improve our carbon footprint”. He said that we still have fossil fuels as our main source of energy, and the challenge is to know how we are going to replace them, and when we are going to stop using them definitively. We need to make them profitable, not just to use them, but to take advantage of them to give rise to new tools that can provide renewable energy sources. This is why Diop himself sees them as a means to achieve sustainable sources.
This was shared by Tamsir Ndiaye, who explained, based on his extensive experience in Senegal, that his country has focused on this type of energy. Despite the period of instability that the Senegalese country has gone through, green energies have progressively become an important element that even many countries have wanted to follow the example of. Within the different sectors to which this type of energy is destined, transport stands out as one of the most important. Peter Somers of Hong Kong-based Bob Eco, a company specialising in the sale of electric motorbikes in Morocco and the Middle East, agreed.
Both Somers and Ndiaye shared this concern for progress in the field of transport, which is considered key to the goal of replacing fossil fuels. Although the transition is complex and requires time to take hold, what is clear is that it is inevitable and important initiatives are emerging in Africa that invite optimism and show that, in addition to being a priority for the continent, efforts are being made effectively and will have an impact on society sooner rather than later.