By Ajong Mbapndah L
On March 30, the Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF) will hold a seminar on renewable energy in Africa with the goal of promoting in-depth discussions on the main trends in the energy sector, sustainable economic development and climate change, in response to the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic
“We chose renewable energy for two reasons: first, to reinforce the agenda of sustainable development, which has been the object of disinformation, and is key for us to avoid a climate crisis in the next few decade; second, to show that the Global South, despite its developmental struggles with poverty, unemployment and inequality, can’t and won’t neglect the green economy as the sole alternative for the future,” says Prof João Bosco Monte ,President of the Brazil African Institute .
In an interview with PAV, Prof Monte says the event is an opportunity for Brazil and Africa to share successful projects, encourage smart investments, and discuss inclusive policies in the energy sector.
Prof Monte, thanks granting this interview, could we start with an update on how the Brazil Africa Institute has readjusted its schedule to cope with the COVID 19 pandemic?
This pandemic is affecting every country in the world. Right now, we are trying to do everything we can to keep everyone safe while adopting the model of remote work. As an international organization, it is not easy to be distant from other parts of the world. But with all the new technologies we are finding ways to shorten distances. We turned the Brazil Africa Forum 2020 into a 100% online edition. The Seminar Renewable Energy and Africa is going in the same direction.
IBRAF will be hosting a seminar on Renewable Energy in Brazil and Africa, why the focus on energy at this time? How relevant do you see renewable energy as an instrument of economic development for both Brazil and Africa?
IBRAF’s mandate is to find areas in which Brazil and Africa can exchange good practices and solutions. Infrastructure, and the several areas that revolve around it, are key in this sense. We chose renewable energy for two reasons: first, to reinforce the agenda of sustainable development, which has been the object of disinformation, and is key for us to avoid a climate crisis in the next few decade; second, to show that the Global South, despite its developmental struggles with poverty, unemployment and inequality, can’t and won’t neglect the green economy as the sole alternative for the future. Renewables are essential for Brazilian and African development: we have the single strongest renewable matrix in the world, and Africans have the one with the greatest potential.
Currently what is the situation like with regards to renewable energy in Brazil today and what could your country offer Africa catch up renewable energy?
Brazil currently has a relevant percentage of its energy matrix based on renewable sources and 83% of our electricity is derived from hydroelectric plants, bioenergy, solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal stations. In general, the interest of the Brazilian public and private sector with Africa needs to be stimulated. The country used to be a leader in South-South Cooperation and we need to engage in it again. The transfer of knowledge and technology is an important field of cooperation.
African still needs to overcome the challenges of social inequality, since a considerable portion of its population does not have access to energy of any kind. On the other hand, renewable energies are a reality in many countries and investments have been increasing. The event is an opportunity for both sides to share successful projects, encourage smart investments, and discuss inclusive policies in the energy sector.
May we know some of the key personalities or professionals who will animate or lead discussions at the seminar?
Sure! We are going to have so many important names dialoguing on our event. Damilola Ogubiyi, the CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All is going to be joining us. We’re also going to have NJ Ayuk, Founder and President of the Centurion Law Group and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber; Rentia Van Tonder Head of Power, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking at Standard Bank; Patrick Dlamini, CEO and Managing Director at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA); Alessandro Amadio, Head of Mission for UNIDO in Brazil and Venezuela; and many other. The list is on our website.
One of the core projects of IBRAF is its Fellowship Program on South-South and Triangular Cooperation (IFP), how is that going and is it serving the purpose for which it was created?
The IFP is up and running since February, and will extend until late 2021. We are engaging with researchers from 9 different countries – Brazil, Argentina, Mozambique, Nigeria, Egypt, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and South Africa —, giving them the opportunity to research themes that can further approximate the Global South, like agriculture, trade, investments, technology and public health. The project has been very successful in serving the purpose for which it was crafted, as it gives both IBRAF and our research fellows the tools to build bridges between professionals and organizations in the two sides of the South Atlantic. Our research fellows are having a very practical and realistic experience of how SSTC works: they dive deep into a research theme, speak with leaders and specialists from their fields, and build a solid research project that can give insights on policy-making focused on the needs of the Global South. This gives IBRAF an opportunity as well, to start dialogues and work with a vast network that is also interested in finding solutions for LDCs.
Any plans yet for the 2021 Brazil-Africa forum and what else is on the calendar at IBRAF for the rest of the year ?
Yes, the Brazil Africa Forum 2021 is just around the corner. We will announce the dates and theme of our flagship event very shortly, and we are hoping to have an even greater debate than the ones we had in 2020. The world is still facing the COVID-19 crisis, so the format of the event is yet undecided. Still, as long as we have strong and encouraging voices with us, as we are sure we will do, the form is merely a detail. There is much more in IBRAF’s pipeline for 2021: we will have more seminars as the one we are currently promoting, but focusing on other strategic themes that can be used as leverage for Brazil-Africa approximation. We are promoting new ways to engage in capacity-building, through our Online Professional Learning (OPL) project, exchanging Brazilian solutions with African learners. IBRAF will also strengthen its presence in the research front, producing more high-quality research on policies, markets and social development, and will create new channels to dialogue with the general public via the creation of content. The year has just begun, and despite a sad scenario worldwide, we remain optimistic.
For those who read this interview and are interested in the seminar on Renewable Energy in Brazil and Africa, what is needed from them to be part of the event?
The event is taking place on March 30th. Registrations are free of any charges. To join us, all you need to do is go to the registration page on the event’s website (https://ibraf.org/projects/renewable-energy-seminar/registrations/) and fill out a very simple form. And that’s it. We want everyone to engage with us and share their thoughts.