While COP21 is still under way in Paris, Africa has a central place in the debates as well as in the solutions for the future. Facing a severe lack of energy infrastructure, many countries seek to move directly from an electricity deficit economy to a landscape full of renewable energy. This is the case with Benin, where only 25% of the population has access to electricity, and where the government has proposed to set up a program called « Light for All » whose purpose is to provide a solar energy system to all Beninese households within the next six months. Ambitious? Definitely, but not unrealistic. « Bringing Benin out of darkness is providing education, security, health and increasing the purchasing power of the people », promise made this day by the Beninese Prime Minister, Lionel Zinsou, appointed to the post last June. The businessman who has lived in France for a long time was also recently designated as the ruling party’s candidate for the February 2016 presidential election. Lionel Zinsou presented the project in Paris early December, alongside his foundation, Africa France. Judging from the reactions received, he has at least convinced the Beninese Diaspora of France. « We do not have oil.
While the world is riveted on Paris for the United Nations Conference on climate change, the COP 21 initiatives multiply throughout the world to try to act at the local level. This is most noticeable on the African continent, where Governments have little to offer. An example of positive and effective initiative this week: the case of Energy For People, who tries to promote access to renewable energy in Togo. Social project launched by a young Togolese company, Energy For People is designed to provide solutions for access to renewable energy, especially in rural areas. Photovoltaic lamps, solar water pumps, biogas, substitutes for wood heaters or charcoal for cooking, the project is helping to publicize and disseminate new cleaner energy technologies in Togo. Most of the villages where Energy For People operates lack access to basic energy and even more to the so-called green energies. The social start-up hopes to provide them with solutions but also contribute to create community and rural groups in order to spread information and training to communities, schools and directly into homes. The goal is to help rural people to learn to produce their own energy; for example to produce charcoal, not with wood