The world is undergoing many transformations and it is increasingly clear that national economies need to adapt. Without clean energy, we have no way of thinking about a viable future.
Four decades ago the political, economic, social and technological scenarium was completely different. The importance of oil in the global economy was unparalleled, to the point that the shocks of 1973 and 1979 had repercussions until the present moment.
At the time little was said about renewable energies, and when the subject was discussed, only bioenergy and gigantic hydroelectric plants, such as the Brazilian Itaipu Plant, gathered attention. Nowadays, Brazil has almost 50% of its energy matrix made up of renewable sources and Africa is making great strides in the use of clean energy.
The Global South, which grew immensely in the 2000s, has not given up its commitment to sustainable development, and – despite a few points outside the curve – must keep climate change on its agenda.
Renewable energies are instrumental in this effort to reconcile the economically viable with the environmentally responsible, and have a lot of potential to be explored – the sector employs more than 1m Brazilians, and expects to receive more than $150bn in new investments by 2050.
On the African continent, 1.4bn people are in need of energy supply, which will require investments of $ 27bn per year until 2030 to ensure clean, sustainable and safe energy for all.
The relevance goes beyond the individual perspective and more than ever renewable energies are an unique opportunities for cooperation between Brazil and Africa, particularly for exchange and experiences and transfer of technologies. While Brazil dominates bioenergy and integration technologies between agribusiness and energy sectors, Africa’s greatest potential in solar, biomass and wind power is significant.
On the other hand, the potential for trade, investment and the sharing of knowledge is visible, even though it has been neglected. We are in need of business channels that target the green economy directly, connecting the private sector in Brazil and Africa to scale up initiatives that generate jobs and income. In addition, professional training is a key so that good practices and technologies are used properly and have maximum positive impact.
It is true that the world is going through a crisis but there are ways to get out of it stronger. If there is any lesson to be learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is that there are areas where joint responses are needed and urgent.
To mitigate the problems caused by the great crisis that is coming, Brazil and Africa can play an important role in the production and use of renewable energy, which will be fundamental to improving the lives of many people through health services, education and agricultural transformation and creating jobs for young people and women.
João Bosco Monte is president of the Brazil Africa Institute