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African Energy Futures: Navigating Sustainability, Electrification and Export Opportunities

Public Round Table Discussion

30 May 2023, 18.00-20.00

Venue: Neuer Senatssaal, Universität zu Köln (Hauptgebäude)

African energy futures face multiple challenges. While there is consensus that electricity generation needs to be expanded to reach 100% electrification and SDG7 (“sustainable energy for all”), it is an open question how this goal should be achieved. Climate activists as well as international and bilateral development organizations based in the Global North demand that only renewables should be developed, for which there are excellent conditions in most African countries. However, there are also proponents of exploiting fossil fuels in various African countries, some of them only recently discovered. They argue that oil and gas will support economic development and industrialization, and that Africa has the same right to use fossil fuels as, for example, European countries. The Russian war in Ukraine has exacerbated this situation and increased global demand for fossil fuels enormously. Most recently, several European countries are eager to replace Russian gas with fossil fuels from Africa and elsewhere to keep up their carbon-intensive economies. Furthermore, longer-term visions aim to export energy, in the form of electricity or hydrogen, from Africa to Europe. Energy export requires the development of various infrastructures, but are also contingent on developing institutions to coordinate energy trade relations. Energy partnerships, such as established by the German government, are an example for such institutions. So far, it is an open question how they can be made beneficial for Africa and avoid what critics might call (renewable) energy colonialism. Especially the question of who will bear the social and environmental costs of the planned large-scale energy projects contributes to conflicts. Meanwhile, reliable and affordable energy supply in large parts of Africa still leaves much to be desired. Our roundtable will address these interrelated issues from an interdisciplinary perspective.




  • Clemens Greiner, University of Cologne
  • Britta Klagge, University Bonn

Language: English

Free Entry