IEA: Overseas aid to Africa outweighed by oil imports

By RTCC Staff

Some projects such as this one in Kuyasa are aiming to bring renewable sources on energy to Africa (© Kuyasa CDM)

New figures show that countries in Africa received less in overseas aid last year than they paid for oil imports.

The figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA), published in the Guardian, show that sub-Saharan Africa received about $15.6 billion in overseas development aid last year, but spent $18 billion importing oil.

They found that while overseas aid has increased, poor countries are not feeling the benefit, as years of increasing oil prices have meant they are paying more and more for energy imports.

Speaking to the Guardian, Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA said the only answer for these countries is to move to renewable energy sources.

“If you diversify the sources of energy, that is a good thing and clean energy means using free, home grown resources so that will bring down the import bills,” he said.

There is a huge difference in the price of oil now, around $120 to $130 a barrel to when industrialised countries were growing and it cost around $13, according to Birol.

While countries like India and China are moving forward on wind and solar power, little has been invested in Africa.

While the country has huge reserves of renewable energy – a 2007 World Bank report found Kenya’s solar resources were the equivalent to 70 million tonnes of oil – the region presents a riskier proposition for private sector investors.

The UN’s Clean Development Mechanism – aimed at helping drive investment in renewables in developing countries – has also seen a huge imbalance in favour of China and India over countries in Africa.

While there are currently around 3560 projects registered under the CDM in China, according to the UN Environment Programme, there are only around 235 registered in the whole of Africa.

This trend has been decreasing in recent months, however, as figures show the rate at which projects are being implemented in Africa is speeding up.

Birol also stressed the need for countries to wean themselves off fossil fuel subsidies, referring to them as a market distortion that would not only worsen climate change, but that puts a drain on poor countries – money which he said could be better spent on social projects.

The IEA’s latest data found subsidies could reach a record $630 billion this year.

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