Climate change is a global topic that is being discussed in virtually all levels of academia. The phenomenon has been dissected thoroughly in several debates internationally and many of the concepts and aspects of climate change are now familiar to academics and international bodies. The challenge posed by climate change is largely anthropogenic as described by some scholars (Solomon et al. 2007; Parry et al. 2007).
They explain that more than 90% of the factors that influence climate change is human-induced and it is safe to propose that, good control over the activities of man could lead to a reduction in the effects of climate change.
In the European Commission’s (n.d) webpage report on climate change, the Commission informs that leading climate scientists believe carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions—which before the era of the industrial revolution, were in rather sustainable natural concentrations—have significantly increased owing to the burning of fossil fuels to operate industries and the mass cutting down of trees which deplete the storehouse for CO2 in the atmosphere.
These activities have over the years, been addressed through education and in search for restoration strategies of the climate-change cycle, the global community birthed a transition to clean renewable energy sources from the major practice of burning fossil fuels to produce energy. This has been a well-pursued movement with some countries performing better than others presumably because of a variety of factors surrounding their renewable energy transition.
Though it may be easy to assume that the issue of funding of individual countries is an all-powerful determinant of success in renewable energy transition, it will be a rather limiting notion as other factors like policy regimes and even simple attitude and commitment held towards the campaign to address climate change may also prove to be relevant in our discussion.
Donor agencies operating in Kenya made solar panel technology of choice in rural locations where electricity was required for activities such as vaccine refrigeration, school lighting and water pumping. As at the time Kenya sought to connect its rural areas, that period was marked by a very intensive search for renewable technologies.
In response to Kenya’s donor needs, large international companies dealing with solar panels opened regional offices in Nairobi.
Again, a few Kenyan firms making solar panels also made their debut, specializing in large scale solar system and avoiding the household sector. This market development saw the prices per peak-watt decline from $40 in 1970 to less than $5 in 1998 and this trend has continued over the years.
Globally, the transition from the traditional fossil fuel sources of energy to renewable sources has become critical and important since many countries have come to acknowledge the threat climate change poses to the world. Hence, a number of countries across the globe have joined in the crusade with “Burgerenergie” (citizen’s energy) in Germany (Radtke, 2013); and “Energies partugées” (shared energies) in France (Poize & Riidinger, 2014).
The energy transition is a pathway toward a transformation of the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon by the second half of this century. At its heart is the need to reduce energy-related CO2 emissions to limit climate change. Decarbonisation of the energy sector requires urgent action on the global scale and while a global energy transition is underway, further action is needed to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. Renewable energy and energy efficiency measures can potentially achieve 90 per cent of the required carbon reductions.
Compared to the majority of fossil fuel-dependent industrial countries, the energy transition in Africa presents a distinct feature. With the exception of a few countries like South Africa, most African countries are not in a situation of pressure where they need to phase out of coal to meet their energy needs through alternative energy sources. Africa’s energy transition rather faces two important challenges; modernisation and expansion.
According to the Africa Energy Outlook (2014), 30% of global oil and gas discoveries made between 2010 and 2014 have been in Sub Sahara Africa. A number of countries that were previously net energy importers will become energy exporters due to increasing oil exports.
Differences between Ghana and Kenya
In accordance with the perspective of this piece concerning possible differences in the factors surrounding the adoption of renewable energy, many African countries are experiencing relatively similar economic trajectories, though some with more promise than others.
It will not be wrong to place the financial capacity of a country to transition to renewable energy in the rear, while we focus on how the renewable energy transition is actually done by a country much like Ghana since funding cannot be the excuse to disrupt the sustainability of the environment.
Ghana’s focus on renewable energy relative solar is quite impressive. The narration in the introduction brings to the fore interventions and commitment levels. However, a fellow African country Kenya is touted as doing relatively better by the World Bank report (2017). Specifically, of the twenty high impact countries for electrification. Kenya, Malawi, Sudan and Uganda were recognized as having rapid progress in renewable energy development.
It is plausible that a problem is before Ghana since both Ghana and Kenya could equally attain success in the renewable energy transition but one of them is evidently lagging behind. This research is to assess the achievement of Kenya in the area of solar energy so as to serve as a blueprint for Ghana to achieve equal feat and even better.
It is, therefore, important to find out what Kenya is doing right and what lessons are there for Ghana to learn relative to solar energy. That will progressively form a knowledge basis for the implementation of revised policies for existing renewable energy plans relative to solar in Ghana.
Ghana’s renewable energy initiatives
Ghana like Kenya has passed its renewable Act, formulated its renewable masterplan and initiated a number of solar energy initiatives. Even though Kenya has a similar background, it has moved on rapidly and been touted as a success by the World Bank. Could this be a fluke or it has a basis that accounts for the success they have chalked up. This study will help Ghana to appreciate the nuance involved in the implementation of solar energy programs as a renewable option.
The pathway drawn by the strategies of the Kenyans would demystify and encourage Ghanaian policymakers to practicalize their ideas for a transition to renewable energy. This will also be a study that resounds the capability of Ghana as a nation to commit to the renewable energy transition having a praiseworthy standard in sight.
Through the activities of Kenyan stakeholders responsible for their success in solar renewable energy, the study will help appreciate other relevant roles that could be played by stakeholders in facilitating the successful implementation of the general renewable action plan. The study unearths the different roles that could be played by particularly what could be done to reduce the cost of solar energy accessories and their installation.
Prospects for jobs
More than 10 million young African men and women are expected to enter the labour market each year over the coming years. Most analysts tend to agree that the traditional public sector will not be able to absorb this new workforce. Entrepreneurship and self-employment are indispensable to create quality jobs in large numbers, and the energy transition can play a central role in this regard. For that to happen, skills development and upgrading, entrepreneurship promotion, and enabling policy and governance frameworks are required.
Studies by the International Labour Office and other institutions have pointed to four types of possible impacts of climate change and greening policies on labour markets (ILO, 2016). Firstly, the expansion of greener products, services, and infrastructure will translate into higher labour demand across many sectors of the economy, thereby leading to the creation of new jobs.
Examples include jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency, manufacturing, transportation, and building and construction. In addition to direct jobs, indirect employment is created along the supply chains, including in the building of necessary infrastructure (ILO, 2016). And as new income is generated and spent across the economy, further employment is created.
Secondly, some of the existing jobs will be substituted as a result of transformations in the economy from less to more efficient, from high-carbon to low-carbon, and from more to less polluting technologies, processes, and products. Examples include the shift from the manufacturing of internal combustion engines to the production electric vehicles, as well as the energy transition itself, as clean energy replaces fossil fuels.
Thirdly, certain jobs may be eliminated, either phased out completely or massively reduced in numbers, without a direct replacement. This may happen where polluting and energy- and materials-intensive economic activities are reduced or phased out entirely, such as in the closing of inefficient coal mines.
Finally, many, and perhaps most, existing jobs (such as plumbers, electricians, metal workers, and construction workers) will simply be transformed and redefined as day-to-day workplace practices, skill sets, work methods, and job profiles are green. For instance, plumbers and electricians can be reoriented to carry out similar work with solar water heating or solar photovoltaic systems.