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Closing the gap: How can access to renewable energy support sustainable and equitable COVID-19 recovery in Africa?

HLPF Event

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“Children cannot study in the dark. Girls and women cannot learn or be productive when they spend hours a day collecting firewood.”

- Ban Ki-Moon, former UN Secretary General

The event will focus on solutions for improving access to energy in Africa, and ways to restore the potential of energy to act as the ‘golden thread’ to the SDGs. Despite a decade of progress, in 2019 only 35 percent of primary schools in sub-Saharan Africa had access to electricity, effecting the learning environment for children and teachers and widening the digital divide (UNESCO). Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that gains are reversible: in 2020, the number of people in Africa without access to electricity increased for the first time since 2013 (International Energy Agency).

The panel will discuss how to ensure sustainable energy supplies for schools, households, and other community services, alongside regional and national strategies and partnerships for closing the energy gap in Africa. Drawing on evidence from a global evaluation of UNDP’s support to energy, the event will demonstrate why energy initiatives must consider the roles and opportunities for women and girls for an equitable recovery from the pandemic.


H.E. Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande , Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations
H.E. Mrs. Agnes Mary Chimbiri Molande , Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Malawi to the United Nations
Mr. Rashid Ali Abdallah, Executive Director of the African Energy Commission
Ms. Usha Rao-Monari, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator
Mr. Oscar A. Garcia , Director of the Independent Evaluation Office of UNDP
Ms. Sheila Oparaocha, Executive Director of ENERGIA, and the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy