“Meninos do Huambo”, by Angolan writer Manuel Rui Monteiro, also known for its description of the “boys around the campfire”, marked my childhood and that of many Portuguese-speaking African children around the world. I’m not sure if this song has reached or still reaches the ears of millions of children who, to this day, don’t have access to energy, but what is certain is that they won’t have stopped dreaming of a better life.
The United Nations (UN) has launched a global challenge to ensure reliable, sustainable, modern and affordable access to energy for all. Among brothers and sisters from Portuguese-speaking African countries (PALOP), where woody biomass is still one of the main sources of energy, the question always remains: how can we guarantee access to energy in a way that inspires new stories of hope and progress?
In the current scenario, Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau face electrification rates below 60 per cent, but this context is different in other countries, such as Cape Verde and São Tomé. Perhaps because of their small size, they have electrification rates of over 90 per cent and 70 per cent respectively. These achievements highlight the potential for energy access that the Portuguese-speaking African continent can achieve and open the door to considerations about the development of various energy transition options.
In search of a more inclusive world, the vast majority of the world’s nations have embraced the noble mission of leaving no-one behind. Although far apart, the PALOP are united by a language that could be the key to opening doors and building bridges between different cultures and traditions. Joining forces is essential to achieve this goal, especially when the entire international energy sector is organised in another language.
The Lusophone Renewable Energy Association (ALER) has played a key role in the development and promotion of renewable energies in the PALOP, with the public and private sectors, creating platforms for co-operation with the various stakeholders and acting as a common voice to improve the business environment and boost the socio-economic benefits of renewable energies. The PALOP countries have a lot to gain from collaborating and sharing knowledge in the energy sector. Cape Verde, which has been very successful in accessing energy, can share its experiences, lessons learnt and best practices.
Angola-Mozambique institutional exchange actions in the field of renewable energies have been developed in order to exploit potential synergies and exchange knowledge. São Tomé and Príncipe has made a commitment and intends to intensify this commitment by taking advantage of renewable potential in order to generate higher quality energy and, above all, to meet the need to reduce the country’s current primary source of electricity, diesel.
Mozambique can be an important contributor to collaboration between Portuguese-speaking countries in the off-grid renewable energy sector
In recent years, the reality experienced in Guinea-Bissau, East Timor and Equatorial Guinea in terms of the state of the electricity grid has created opportunities for the design of a range of innovative solutions adapted to the specific needs of each country. Brazil and Portugal have extensive experience in renewable energies and can offer valuable insights into the implementation of sustainable projects.
As a leading country, Mozambique can be an important contributor to collaboration between PALOP countries in the off-grid renewable energy sector. The public sector has shown significant commitment to realising the 2030 Agenda.
With the New Electricity Law, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Mozambican government is demonstrating its commitment to sustainable development and access to energy for all. In addition, the regulation on access to energy in off-grid areas and the other complementary regulations provide a solid regulatory framework to guarantee the effective implementation of the established standards.
The availability of 282 million euros in funding from cooperation partners, as presented in the “Renewables in Mozambique 2022” summary, of which approximately 180 million euros is for the off-grid market, is a significant opportunity to boost the use of renewable energies in remote areas lacking access to electricity. These resources can be used to develop sustainable and innovative projects, promoting economic growth and improving the quality of life of communities.
The Mozambican Renewable Energy Association (AMER) is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote renewable energy in Mozambique. AMER has more than 100 members, a sign that there is significant interest and support from companies, organisations and individuals in promoting and developing sustainable energy solutions in the country. The association has the opportunity to create strategic partnerships, share knowledge, promote awareness and adoption of renewable energies, and work together with the public sector to overcome the challenges faced by the sector.
Strengthening our shared identity is a fundamental pillar for cooperation between the PALOP countries. In Africa, we often say: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others”. Just as so many have embraced the “Boys of Huambo” as their own symbol, we have less than seven years to ensure that boys and girls across Portuguese-speaking Africa have access to quality, sustainable energy. Together, we can find solutions to tread a progressively more sustainable path across the Portuguese-speaking world, leaving a legacy and an inspiring mark for future generations.