SASSCAL successfully hosted its virtual inception meeting for the H2Atlas-Africa project on Tuesday 18 August 2020. Participants were drawn from all 12 project implementing Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries as well as the funding country, Germany. The meeting was also attended by the SASSCAL Governing Board chair, Mrs Jane Chinkusu as well as the Vice Board Chair Prof Gabriel Luis Miguel.
Speaking at the meeting, Prof Miguel advised that sustainable development of the SADC region based on the green economy has received support and special attention from the 40th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of SADC which ended on Monday 17 August 2020. Such fundamental commitments showcase SADC’s continued drive towards regional integration. Prof Miguel advocated for joint partnerships and solidarity in research to find solutions for sustainable development and regional integration and cooperation.
The H2Atlas:Africa project implementation is hailed as a historic and unique cooperation initiative between the SADC and ECOWAS implementing countries. It is the first of a kind, encompassing 30 countries, stated Dr Christoph Roevekamp – Head of Energy and Green Hydrogen Technologies Division at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). This project will further augment the bridge between SADC countries, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members and Germany and also further strengthen multi-lateral cooperation towards sustainable development. The sustainable production of hydrogen cannot be attained by one country thus the need for global partnerships highlighted Dr Roevekamp. As the ‘oil of the future’, “Green Hydrogen is a big game-changer in the energy market”, he added. Dr Roevekamp also noted that the time is right for a sustainable future and hydrogen is the most important and fundamental future economic recovery package as highlighted in the European Green Deal.
There is growing evidence of fossils being replaced by renewable energies. The main drivers of this migration are climate mitigation, decarbonisation and competitiveness of renewable energies. Dr Roevekamp stated that recent studies have shown that Green Hydrogen can be produced at the same cost as hydrogen from fossil sources and blue hydrogen. With such analysis, he envisions that green hydrogen could be used within the next two to three years at the same level and to the same magnitude as fossil fuels. Such a project is the backbone of this migration.
The project coordinator, Dr Solomon Agbo noted that the whole idea of migration to the green hydrogen economy is a “great movement” towards sustainable energy and sustainable development. The green hydrogen economy will play a pivotal role in addressing climate change challenges and ensuring a green sustainable future. SASSCAL Executive Director, Dr Olwoch added that this “great movement” is our new way of life and a lifetime commitment that has great economic and environmental benefits.
Dr Olwoch concluded the meeting by reminding participants that, Africa has been relying on fossils for a long time and despite its endowment with fossil fuels, the latter have not brought peace, security and prosperity in Africa. Africa is now ready for this energy transformation. The region has the necessary resources for this migration, she added. A Press Conference was held soon after the inception meeting, where Dr Olwoch reiterated that SASSCAL is ready to coordinate and implement this project in the 12 SADC countries. “SASSCAL prides itself in its successes in research, capacity development and provision of climate services and is thus best suited for the implementation of a project envisaged to see a reduction in emissions not just in the SADC region but also worldwide” she added. Dr Olwoch further informed the media fraternity of the importance of partnerships for sustainable global solutions and thanked the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) for the regional expertise it brings to the table, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH for the technical expertise and BMBF for funding such an innovative initiative. Project implementation will further boost regional capacity development and this is an important and key element for climate adaptation and mitigation she concluded.