By: Thandiwe Kubere

In the wake of climate change, the world’s apparent greatest threat causing suffering and death, it has become important to figure out ways of ensuring that Lesotho is resilient through green energy practices. This is because even though the globe is or will be affected by climate change, the world’s least developed countries which have contributed less to the problem—are the most climate-vulnerable.

Energy is a large contributor to Carbon dioxide– the burning of fossil fuels accounts for around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions. It has been said that reducing energy consumption can inevitably help to reduce emissions. However, some energy consumption is essential to human wellbeing and rising living standards.

Green energy is referred to as energy that is generated from natural resources, such as sunlight, wind or water. United Nations Climate Action reveal that Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, are by far the largest contributors to global climate change, accounting for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. It further enlightened that in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, emissions need to be reduced by almost half by the year 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050. For this to be possible, it is advisable to invest in alternative sources of energy that are clean, accessible, affordable, sustainable, and reliable.

Lecturer at the National University of Lesotho, Department of Physics and Electronics, and member of Energy Research Centre (ERC), Moruti Kao, declared that global efforts have been made to encourage gender and youth inclusion in the energy sector. In Lesotho, initiatives include training programs, mentorship, and financial support for women and youth interested in the energy sector have been identified. Lesotho Renewable Energy and Energy Access Project in collaboration with ERC trained the first cohort of 20 females on Solar PV Systems design and installations in 2023, a training which aimed at empowering females on Renewable Energy related issues.

“The perception that one needs a significant amount of money to enter the energy sector is a common misconception. Many initiatives provide support, including funding or access to resources, to help overcome financial barriers. Encouraging women and youth to explore opportunities in the energy sector can contribute to a more diverse and innovative industry”, he said.

Kao explained Lesotho has shown interest in sustainable development and green initiatives even though not much specific progress and policies may have evolved since then. On the Policy aspect, he declared the ERC is planning to host Energy Policy Forum later this year, which will be looking specifically at the country’s existing energy policies, their effectiveness as well as providing some necessary recommendations.

The purpose of the ERC, is to respond to the energy and climate change challenges facing Lesotho by developing or adapting knowledge and technologies that enable smooth transition to a sustainable energy system. Furthermore, it strives to develop human resource capacity in sustainable energy and to perform relevant research that informs national energy policy for sustainable development.

Kao asserted that as part of sensitizing the public, the ERC has since introduced Master of Science in Sustainable Energy as one of the important initiatives that can quickly disseminate much needed knowledge to Basotho students about the green environment. “ERC is also hosting Renewable Energy Awareness Campaigns all over the country in order to share some light to every Mosotho, about green technology. There are also different Energy entities that are doing some recognized work to ensure that the country contributes towards achieving and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals”, he said.

He stated the campaigns have had a lot of impact which were first implemented at the NUL Campus. “The second one was in Hlotse Leribe and had a lot of positive feedback from both the companies dealing with green energy technologies as well as a lot of people requesting for solar hot water systems, efficient cooking stoves, solar baking ovens and more” he recalled. The third campaign was in Mafeteng where a significant number of people attended and the most recent one was in Maputsoe. Additionally, ERC is planning to have another campaign on the 1st of March in Mohale’s Hoek.

Moreover, he enlightened that effective sensitization on energy sustainability involves targeted education and awareness campaigns. He noted that it would be helpful to integrate energy sustainability topics into school curricula and organize workshops to educate students on the importance of both renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Again, he deemed it essential to conduct workshops and seminars in communities to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of energy choices and the benefits of sustainable practices. He also advised on implementing government-led campaigns to promote energy conservation, emphasizing the role individuals play in ensuring sustainability.

He declared it would also be important to utilize various media channels to disseminate information on energy conservation, sustainable practices, and the impact of individual choices on the environment.

Advising on what Lesotho can do to ensure clean energy sustainability while at the same time contributing to green economic value, he said the country could adopt a multifaceted approach including: Investing in renewable energy sources such as hydropower, solar, and wind to reduce dependence on fossil fuels; Implement energy efficiency initiatives across sectors to optimize energy use and minimize waste; Develop and enforce policies that promote clean energy production, consumption, and innovation; Incentivize businesses and individuals to adopt sustainable practices; Invest in education and training programs to build local expertise in clean energy technologies, Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship; Collaborate with international organizations and neighbouring countries to share knowledge, technology, and resources for sustainable energy development; Involve local communities in decision-making processes, ensuring their participation in and benefit from clean energy projects; Provide financial incentives, subsidies, and support mechanisms to encourage investment in clean energy projects, especially for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs; Develop eco-friendly infrastructure projects, such as sustainable transportation and green buildings, to compliment clean energy efforts.

“By combining these strategies, Lesotho can create a resilient and sustainable energy landscape while contributing to the global shift towards a greener economy. People in Lesotho can be better informed of the importance of preserving both renewable and non-renewable energy and motivated to contribute to sustainable practices”, said Kao.