Back on Track: The Role of Renewables in Africa’s post-COVID Recovery
When making our first steps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, it became evident that the necessary emergency measures implemented worldwide – lockdowns, travel restrictions, deep changes and limitations in everyone’s personal and professional routines – widely increased the inequalities that already characterized our system. Specifically, it seems that the real challenge the African continent will be facing in the upcoming years concerns public health. Africa seems to have suffered less than the Western world in that to this day, Africa accounts for merely 3.37% of worldwide COVID-19 cases – equating to roughly 4 million out of 137 million cases worldwide – with an even lower confirmed death rate – 116,746 out of 2.97 million. However, in digging more deeply into the economic and social aspects we begin to realize the real repercussions of the phenomenon. In 2020, Africa’s Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) growth, the most promising worldwide, shrank from 3.2% to 1.8%. The consequences of this are significant, with an estimated 29 million people expected to fall back into extreme poverty.
African economy is impacted by the disruption of supply chains, huge shifts in public finance and harsh struggles for business owners to keep up with their operational costs. Moreover, where lockdown measures are implemented, they often conflict with an endemic lack of access to electricity and internet, thus jeopardizing, for many people, the possibility to work or study. These issues are even more consistent in remote areas, which used to face alike difficulties even before the pandemic, with a remarkably reduced access to services and utilities. The need for a fresh start has never been stronger, especially in a continent which, despite major economic and social constraints, has proven to be a rising star in terms of GDP growth, digitalization and innovation. A post-COVID-19 recovery calls for the mobilization of resources and investments, which should be allocated in strategic sectors. Among them, renewable energy is one of the most crucial, as it represents the backbone of sustainable development and is, consequently, one of the main drivers for a post-COVID recovery.
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