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One of the side sessions at the South Africa International Renewable Energy Conference (Sairec) on Tuesday focused on energy security and the Africa EU Energy Partnership (AEEP). 

 

Access to energy services and energy security are two major key issues facing the Africa, where more than 600 million people do not have access to electricity or any other modern energy services. 

“To guarantee energy access, we need to put in place a strong energy security programme,” said Philippe Niyongabo, African Union commission head of energy division and geothermal risk mitigation facility project Manager. 

Niyongabo said there was no doubt that “renewable energy offers much better advantages for Africa, compared to fossil fuels, both for energy access and energy security”. 

He said it was a major issue for Africa’s economic growth and development. Niyongabo said it was important is to bring government, the private sector, the public and civic society on board to invest in Africa’s energy access and security. 

Niyongabo stressed it was important for Africa to “grow markets and resources that allow for the development of innovative and efficient energy solutions and to look for solutions and partnerships to improve its energy security while bolstering clean energy access”. 

He said collaboration was critical for success in ensuring energy access and security, and some of these partnerships include the AEEP, a long-term framework for strategic dialogue between Africa and the EU on key energy issues and challenges of the 21st century. 

“The expansion of renewable energy on the continent will be imperative to achieving sustainable energy access, energy security, as well as meeting climate change mitigation objectives at the global and continental levels”. 

Niyongabo said AREI aimed to ensure the development of 300GW of electricity by 2030 to “meet a forecasted increase in power demand resulting from increased consumption of households, industry and agriculture, as will as access to electricity”. 

The aim would be to ensure energy access for 1.5 billion people by 2040, he said. 

In addition, the initiative, he said, which was created following the December 2007 Lisbon EU-Africa Summit, aimed to bring access to modern energy services to an additional 100 million people. 

He said one of the goals of the AEEP was to reach the set targets of 10 000MW hydropower; 5 000MW wind power, 500MW solar power and tripling the capacity of other renewables of geothermal and bioenergy by 2020. 

Another AEEP target would be to “double the capacity of cross border electricity interconnections, both within Africa and between Africa and Europe, and double the use of natural gas in Africa and double gas exports to Europe”. 

The AEEP has established the Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme which Niyongabo said “is strengthening policy and institutional frameworks, bringing projects to bankability, skills development and capacity building”. 

Marie-Hélène Aubert, French Presidency Adviser for International Negotiations: Climate and Environment said: “We see the COP21 as an ideal opportunity to help Africa increase its energy security through the development of renewable energy. The South African International Renewable Energy Conference is a crucial step in this regard”. 

Aubert highlighted how “African governments at the highest level have stated their interest in accelerating Africa’s energy transition in view of the COP21 when they launched the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), which aims to increase Africa’s renewable energy capacity by 10GW by 2020 compared to business as usual”. 

She said AREI remains different because it was an “innovative initiative insofar as it recognises the need for combining public grants and concessional loans to leverage private investments”. 

Aubert said AREI would be presented to Africa’s partners at the IMF and World Bank meetings in Lima, Peru this week and the initiative could be featured on the COP21 programme under “Energy Day” on December 7. 

“The EU’s vision fits into Africa’s objectives perfectly, and I’d like to congratulate the commission on its leadership”. 

Aubert added she hoped this “robust partnership” together with the initiative would go a long way in making “the difference for Africa’s energy future” 

Niyongabo said Africa already has in place the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa-Priority Action Plan 2015 -2020 (PIDA-PAP) and was in the process of implementing the Hydropower 2020 initiative “which is aimed at stimulating the development of major hydropower projects on the continent through capacity building”. 

The PIDA-PAP has 15 energy programmes, including nine hydropower projects, and “a plan to establish 16 500km of transmission lines by 2040 to connect the continent’s power pools and permit a large increase in inter-regional energy trade”. 

The plan, he said, included a 4 100km gas pipeline between Nigeria and Algeria, which would supply gas to Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Europe, and a regional petroleum pipeline that would link Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. 

The Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility (GRMF) project, launched in 2012, falls under the African Union Commission, as does the Africa Bio-energy Policy Framework and Guidelines, and the Solar energy development in Africa initiative. 

The GTMF is focused on realising 20 000MW of geothermal energy in the Eastern Africa Rift Valley. Nine geothermal energy projects out of 11 have qualified for grants worth $26 million.

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