Research Insight – early May 2020: Energy Access Challenges in the COVID 19 crisis: Is there a future for Extractives in the Energy Transitions era?”
Abstract: Access to modern energy is key in addressing the global challenges including poverty, famine and gender inequality. There have been various efforts to tackle the challenge of energy access not only at the national level but also at the regional and international level. However, these efforts are likely to be disrupted given the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic that has made the conditions dire, hence triggering global economic shutdowns. The pandemic has had an impact on all spheres of life. In the energy sector, oil demand and consumption has decreased consequently leading to drastic drop in oil prices to below zero as of 21st April 2020. This has led many to question the future of fossil fuels especially in this energy transition era.
Indeed, these worries are valid given the current decline in oil demand especially in the key sectors including transport and manufacturing industries. Nevertheless, we must be aware that, fossil fuels still play a major role in tackling energy access challenges especially in developing countries where coal and oil dominate the energy mix. Unlike most developed countries that have successfully tackled energy access challenges, most developing countries on the contrary are still faced with these challenges. Communities especially in rural areas are still reliant on traditional energy such as firewood and candles for cooking and lighting respectively. Additionally, the energy mix in most of the developing countries is still dominated by biomass and fossil fuels especially for electricity generation. It is against this stark background that this paper analyses the future of extractives in the energy transition era putting into consideration the current global pandemic which undoubtedly will have an impact on the future energy investments and policy decisions.