Gespräch am 9.12.2015

Dr. Olasupo Owoye (University of South Australia, Adelaide):
Charting a Human Rights Framework for Access to Energy in Africa

Energy access is fundamental to the full enjoyment of not only economic and social rights but also civil and political rights. Whilst the campaign for extending energy access to the world’s most vulnerable populations may be validly anchored on the need to mitigate climate change and promote sustainability, it is exigent to also underscore its human rights significance. In Africa, where most countries have weak environmental regulation and enforcement structures, the climate change and sustainable development rhetoric most commonly used in emphasizing the importance of energy access may not yield the desired results. Access to energy is a major issue in Africa and South Asia where a very significant proportion of their populations make use of biomass sourced fuels to meet most of their energy needs. This has come with some major attendant health, environmental and socio economic consequences. This paper argues that energy access has transcended the contours of climate change and has become a human rights issue. The paper posits that African Union states may be made to take progressive measures to provide modern energy services through the adjudicatory jurisdiction of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.