The United Arab Emirates continues to expand its influence and attempt to decarbonise all its resources to use greener energy. The Gulf country's new plan is in Africa, where it is leading a programme under the name "Etihad 7" that consists of financing renewable energy projects. On the one hand, it will help the continent's regions raise awareness of environmentalism and climate change, and on the other, it will seek to provide clean, green energy to 100 million of the continent's inhabitants. This will be able to meet the primary needs of some of Africa's most resource-poor countries while developing their economies.
"The programme facilitates sustainable development by solving key challenges that stand in the way of clean and affordable energy in emerging markets. It is a truly collaborative programme, which recognises and adapts to the needs and requirements of our friendly nations," said Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan, Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and principal leader of the programme.
The UAE Media Office was among those to announce the project, which it says will meet all its targets by 2035. "The UAE is launching the Etihad 7 programme to fund renewable energy projects in Africa as part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability 2022 plan. This is an innovative UAE-led programme, which secures funding for renewable energy projects in Africa, and aims to provide clean electricity to 100 million people by 2035," he said via Twitter.
Minister Bin Nahyan released a statement on the ministry's website to make the announcement. "Our two regions are inextricably linked, with enormous potential for further cooperation in the coming years," he said.
"One of the keys to unlocking that potential is to supercharge Africa's economies and enable millions of people to contribute to building a prosperous continent in electricity, specifically in the renewable energy sector," the sheikh added.
Emirates hopes to bring great benefits to African countries and is interested in working with other programmes on the continent. The project idea has also given the Gulf nation a high profile in the fight against climate change, as it has become the first country in the MENA region - the Middle East and North Africa - to come up with a concrete plan. The UAE aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
"The UAE is committed to partnering with sub-Saharan African nations to achieve sustainable development and promote the well-being of the wider region, while moving forward together in the field of renewable energy," said Sheikh Shakhboot.
Interest in Africa is nothing new, and many nations such as the UAE are concerned about the ecological situation within the continent. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has already commented on the issue, adding that some regions are not in the energy transition.
Several reports reveal that only 2% of global investment in renewable energy over the last twenty years has gone to Africa, and that less than 3% of those employed in the sector are based on the continent.
IRENA adds that it does not understand how the continent goes unnoticed, when it is one of the best places to invest due to its climatic conditions and has a great potential in wind, solar, hydroelectric and geothermal energy, as well as abundant natural and mineral resources that can be harnessed to create the materials needed to create the projects.
The report also points out that African countries need to establish green policies with targets that are in line with those set globally. This would help the economic development of the regions, which would grow more and more and would have much more employment, social equity and, above all, well-being. IRENA reminds that every million dollars invested in this sector between 2020 and 2050 would create at least 26 years of job creation.