Pushing green?power

2014-03-09 14:00

Denmark looks at Africa to further its agenda on renewable energy

Denmark is looking at peddling its green agenda further on the African continent as it sets out to increase Danish-African trade in the sector.

The country has earmarked about R8.6?billion to take advantage of growth opportunities in Africa.

Nicolaj Hejberg Petersen, a director at the Danish foreign affairs ministry, said: “Water is one area where we should be able to do more, we have core advantages here compared with some other European countries.

“Green growth, like renewable energy, is an area where we can play a better role, as well as in agriculture. These are areas where we have core

Danish competencies and where we can improve our trade with Africa.”

Denmark has a huge green industry?–?in wind energy alone, the turnover is about 80?billion Danish kroner (R160?billion) annually, according to Susanne Krawack of Concito, a think-tank in Copenhagen.

Amid bottlenecks in the energy supply facing many African countries, there are a few pockets of successful green energy sources such as solar energy, wind turbines and hydroelectric power.

According to the department of energy, by November last year, South Africa had attracted about R150?billion for its renewable energy independent power producer programme. The department has committed to purchasing 2?400MW from independent power producers in the first two phases of the programme.

But there is a concern about the lack of political will to move towards a greener future in Africa.

For example, the two biggest coal-fired power stations, Kusile and Medupi, are under construction in South Africa. The possibility of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is also being investigated.

According to Krawack, a sharper focus on green solutions was necessary to build a sustainable future.

“For instance, in the financial sector, banks can choose not to give loans to homes that do not meet the green standard,” she said.

Water quality has also been an issue in various African countries, including South Africa, and Petersen said the Danish could play a role in this.

Denmark prides itself on its systems to clean water and tap water is good enough for most restaurants in the Scandinavian country.

The business opportunities for Denmark in green energy are not lost on Petersen and are a major motivator for moving further into Africa.

He said: “We have a lot cooperation with Africa and we have a lot of business in Africa but when it comes to traditional economic cooperation, Denmark is lagging.

“We’ve had surveys showing that if we could get up to the EU [European Union] average when it comes to African-Danish trade, Denmark would gain 6?000 new jobs. That’s from the Danish angle, but it would also create a lot of jobs in Africa.

“We want to enhance the framework conditions for growth in Africa. We won’t target countries specifically for Danish companies, but it is clear that a more prosperous Africa provides more opportunities for everyone.”

But Petersen did admit there were challenges regarding investment in Africa, particularly in those countries that are experiencing conflict.

Masote was part of a green growth study tour in Denmark with International Media Support

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