USAid in Africa / Wikimedia Commons
USAid in Africa / Wikimedia Commons

Congratulations to the team that has secured NORGLOBAL funding from the Research Council of Norway for the 3-year projectGreen Curses and Violent Conflicts: The Security Implications of Renewable Energy Sector Development in Africa. The project team consists of project leader Siri Aas Rustad (PRIO), Kendra Dupuy, John Andrew McNeish (NMBU), Stacy VanDeveer (University of Massachusetts Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies), Carl Bruch (Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and Francis Mwesigye.

In his Nobel Peace address in 2018 Dr. Mukwege said: “When you drive your electric car; when you use your smart phone or admire your jewellery, take a minute to reflect on the human cost of manufacturing these objects.”

The new research project “Green Curses and Violent Conflict” will examine the conditions under which increased investment in renewable energy could generate a new set of resource- and energy-related violent conflicts in Africa – a so-called “green curse” – and how to prevent and resolve these conflicts.

Many resource-rich African countries have suffered from the “resource curse”, with natural resource wealth cursing rather than blessing poor countries by bringing about violent conflict, autocratic rule, and heightened poverty. In fact, around half of Africa’s violent conflicts in the post-Cold War period were related to natural resources and energy, and resource- and energy-related conflicts have been on the rise in recent years.

The past few years we have seen a change in type of resource projects expanding in Africa. The number and type of green energy projects such as biofuels, hydro, wind, and solar power projects, are increasing substantially across Africa. Estimates suggest that by 2040, renewable energy sectors will account for over 40% of African power production, and large-scale wind, solar, hydro, and biofuels projects are already underway.

Countries like Uganda – a major focus of this project – are rapidly building up their renewable energy sectors. African mining sectors also continue to grow substantially, in part to support the switch to renewable energy sources, as the continent is home to vast metal and mineral reserves required to produce low-carbon technologies. Yet the African continent has a poor track record in natural resource, energy, and environmental management.