African energy transitions will be critical to the world’s climate and economic future — and will shape opportunities, livelihoods, health, and educational outcomes across the continent. Planning those transitions is a monumental task, requiring countries to build energy systems that consider social, economic, and environmental goals — as well as locally-specific political windows, trade-offs, and liabilities. Yet, all too often, the analysis and energy systems modeling that drives energy planning across the continent and in global fora is not being led by African institutions or researchers, or even commissioned by African governments. This results in energy plans and targets that lack local relevance, credibility, and impact — impeding the actual work from getting done.
To address these issues, this report presents a new framework for understanding the key elements of healthy energy transition planning ecosystems and identifies the critical gaps and leverage points in the African context. Through extensive landscape research into the structure and evolution of energy planning ecosystems within and outside Africa, we sought to understand the core conditions entrenching the problem and identify solutions capable of establishing sustainable African-led energy systems modeling, analysis, and decision-making.
There is no silver bullet. But we identify three key strategies for lasting impact:
- Provide flexible, long-term, and adaptive funding: Creating room for creative solutions to flourish from the bottom up, in contrast to the norm of tightly-scoped project funding.
- Improve energy data sources: Encompassing top-down support for national energy statistics capacity and bottom-up investment in research and innovation to fill data gaps.
- Anchor independent local expertise: Ensuring intellectual independence and stable institutional homes for credible local experts who can respond to evolving needs.
Based on these findings, we lay the groundwork for a new initiative designed to empower African experts, and also provide actionable insights that others can incorporate into their own efforts, so that all countries have the capacities, resources, and tools to shape their own energy transitions and ultimately achieve sustainable development and global climate goals.
Read our full report (19 pgs) here.