Delegates to the just-ended 2-day international research conference held at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, ISSER and dubbed “SETUSA 2017”, exhibited courage and determination to carry on their mission of achieving energy sustainability and transitions in urban areas in the face of huge challenges.
Even before the ‘fight’ could end, they have declared themselves champions and are bent on turning the tide.
Speaking at the end of the conference, Dr Simon Bawakyillenuo, Senior Research Fellow at ISSER and Coordinator of the Conference described the deliberations as extremely productive, exhaustive and wonderful. The reverberations of such conclusion resonated in the delegates which moved them to forge ahead with their resolve to push through to succeed in their mission.
Dr Bawakyillenuo expressed profound gratitude to the funders and partners, Department for International Development, DFID, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, EPSRC and Department of Energy and Climate Change, (DECC) and ISSER.
The conference was from Monday, 19th to Tuesday 20th June, 2017 under the theme: “Strategies for Sustainable Energy Transitions in Urban Sub- Saharan Africa, (SETUSA)”. It is part of the project called “Supporting Sub- Saharan African Municipalities with Sustainable Energy Transitions, (SAMSET)”.
SAMSET aims at supporting local authorities to build resilient, energy dependent and green cities and municipalities in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) through capacity building and knowledge exchange.
It is in pursuant of SAMSET’s mission that an international training workshop was slated to come on the hills of the conference from 21st to 24th June, at Noguchi Memorial Institute, University of Ghana.
Earlier, opening the conference, Prof Asante noted that Africa today is rapidly urbanized and by 2050, 60% of the estimated population will live in cities. Again urban Sub-Saharan Africa will be responsible for about 75% of the total energy consumption by 2040.
This, the Director of ISSER observed has serious implications for capacity of the environment to continue supporting life at optimum level considering the high energy needs, especially electricity.
“To escape total environmental degradation, ecosystem breakdown and critical climate change extreme events, the estimated energy demand needs to be met by a mix of clean energy sources such as solar, wind and waste-to-energy resources as well as significant promotion and adoption of energy efficiency initiatives at all levels of government”, Prof alluded.
In his keynote address, Prof Daniel Kebera Irurah, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, gave an overview of the theme taking it from insightful perspectives of human behaviour to change particularly relating to climate change and energy demands.
He averred to a paradox where Africa sits on huge resources but lacks the capacity to turn it around while developed countries have harnessed fossil energy immensely and succeeded in posing a major challenge to fully utilizing renewable energies for sustainable development.
He cited studies which show a new comparative analysis of the cost of electricity generated from various supply sources in South Africa showing new solar photovoltaic and onshore wind to be 40% cheaper than the cost associated with new baseload of coal-fired power stations.
Touching on ecological footprint of countries, Prof Irurah, observed that planetary thresholds have been overshot and this calls for what he describes as One-Planet-Lifestyles.
The conference was very interactive with participants engaging presenters in question and answer sessions, others sought for clarification on some of the presentations made while the rest were suggestions.
Later the conference went into parallel sessions to discuss various topics under panel themes. The themes were: Energy Access and Informal Settlements, Urban Energy governance and Inclusiveness, Energy Access between centralised and distributed generation, Modelling and Energy system, Energy Efficiency and Buildings and Energy Efficiency and Suppressed Demand. The rest are: Biogas and Waste Management, Cookstoves and energy access and Planning and Transport.