Preparatory Meeting of African Youth For Green Hydrogen Alliance
By Ravi Karkara, Sailesh Singhal& Frans S. Kalenga
In the preparatory meeting on June 16, 2022 for forming the Alliance, youth from across 13 countries in Africa, including Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Egypt, Morocco, Zimbabwe and others intend to foster collaboration on creating a sustainable enabling environment to supercharge African Youth For Green Hydrogen alliance in fostering and enabling the world’s first youth declaration on green hydrogen. This includes nestling of youth-led innovation to localise production of green hydrogen, development of youth leadership, capacity building, creating advocacy and awareness to mobilise youth in providing solutions in ending climate emergency and meeting the 1.5 degrees benchmark through green hydrogen.
Africa is already one of the regions of the world most affected by climate disorders and is home to one-sixth of the global population. Yet, it accounts for less than 6% of global energy consumption and 2% of cumulative global emissions. At the same time, Africa also has the potential to play a leading role as the world’s energy systems transition to a net zero future. The continent’s geographic diversity holds huge potential for solar and wind power, and resources needed for clean energy technologies.
Why Green hydrogen? Green hydrogen is defined as hydrogen produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity through a process called electrolysis. This results in very low or zero carbon emissions. Emerging green hydrogen strategies and policies differ widely on the definition of “renewable energy”, the boundaries of the carbon accounting system, the emission thresholds at which hydrogen is considered green, and the feedstocks and production technologies deployed. This lack of standardisation is undermining efforts to accelerate the use of green hydrogen.
Potential of Africa in Green HydrogenThe United Nations’ Marrakech Partnership’s Energy Pathway foresees 500-800 gigawatts (GW) of green hydrogen electrolysis deployment by 2030, consistent with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) recent Net Zero 2050 scenario. Production at this scale can decarbonize key sectors like steel, shipping, power, and chemicals (i.e. fertilizers) that are challenging to electrify with renewables directly. Green hydrogen unlocks the world’s first zero carbon industrial opportunity by enabling renewable energy sources to be converted into transportable and useful chemicals and value-added products. Many countries across Africa are well-suited to access this with large tranches of non-arable land and strong renewable energy potential. New opportunities for near-zero carbon industry and employment are within reach—if not yet in hand. Grasping the opportunities posed by a new African green hydrogen industry will require a concerted effort from a diverse set of stakeholders. This could provide Africans with new access to clean energy sources, job opportunities in the zero-emission economy, public health benefits such as cleaner air, domestic wealth creation and export revenues.
For example, South Africa’s ambition is to become a net exporter of green hydrogen, and it has been looking into possibilities for export to the Asian market. Last October, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a Green Hydrogen Export Economic Zone. Namibia’s planned US$9.4 billion green hydrogen project is expected to create 15,000 jobs during construction and 3,000 permanent positions – 90% to be filled by Namibians. Projects are also planned in Egypt, Mauritania and Morocco.
UN Climate Change High-Level Champions Nigel Topping and Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin said: “With its huge renewable energy resource wealth and land space, Africa has a chance to become a frontrunner in this burgeoning green hydrogen industry, creating zero-emission jobs, domestic energy supplies and export revenues fit for a decarbonised future. But to get there, we need radical collaboration across the governments, the private sector, civil society and youth to set the right policy, investment frameworks and create massive demand, and we need to secure long-term offtake agreements.
Why African Youth For Green Hydrogen Alliance?Over 60% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25 and the number of African youth is expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. African youths are its major human resource that will serve as agents for entrepreneurship, innovation and social change on the continent. Since the dawn of the 21st century, the number of young people on the continent choosing a career in entrepreneurship and innovation has been increasing each year. The amount of innovation coming from the continent has been growing each year, Kenya, Mauritius, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa has constantly been ranked high on he Global Innovation Index.
The growth in renewable investment calls for youth engagement, access to finance, skills and education that would promote innovation and governance in the sector. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the off-grid value chain alone, including sales, marketing, installation and services, could create at least 4.5 million jobs globally by 2030