Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 18 February 2023 – A presidential roundtable on the side-lines of the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union has called for the acceleration of financing for energy access in Africa with clear targets and steps for ensuring the achievement of universal energy access by 2030.
The event which was organised by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the World Bank in collaboration with the Union of the Comoros was attended by the Presidents of Comoros and the Republic of Madagascar and ministers of the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of Congo, the Republic of Malawi, high-level representatives of the African Development Bank, the World Bank, international and regional institutions, and development partners.
On behalf of AUC Chairperson H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, H.E. Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, warmly welcomed and commended the presence of the dignitaries which, according to the Deputy Chairperson, is a clear demonstration of the importance they attach to energy access and security in Africa.
In her opening remarks H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy accentuated that energy is a bedrock for the success of every development sector and thus increased effort is required in ensuring affordable and reliable access. Dr Amani stated that “Africa’s key priorities and initiatives including industrialisation, AfCFTA, agricultural development, food security, poverty alleviation, job creation and regional integration, as well as the achievement of the SDGs, are all dependent on modern and universal energy access and services.”
In his keynote address, the President of the Union of the Comoros and the Chairperson of the African Union for 2023, H.E. Azali Assoumani shed light on the irony of energy poverty on a continent that is richly endowed with vast energy resources that remain untapped. President Assoumani also highlighted the energy situation in most African island nations and noted that continental approaches can complement national initiatives to boost energy access. Using the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility (GRMF) as an example, and Comoros as the beneficiary of a USD 9 million GRMF grant, H.E. Assoumani demonstrated how continental initiatives can augment Member States’ efforts. “Accelerating the implementation of Agenda 2063 flagship projects such as the Grand Inga Dam Hydro project, and the energy projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) is critical in enhancing energy access, regional integration, fostering economic transformation, and climate resilience”, underscored the President.
The African Single Electricity Market (AfSEM) was noted to be a key strategic element of facilitating energy access and enhancing energy security in Africa and, therefore, the AU Member States, regional economic communities and their specialised institutions were urged to play their part in facilitating its operationalisation.
President of the Republic of Madagascar H.E. Andry Rajoelina, who also chaired the high-level panel discussion emphasised the need to invest in clean sources to fast-track universal energy access in Africa underlining that energy is every African leader’s priority. “Addressing Energy Access is not negotiable for any leader, and we need now to move from words to action,” said, President Rajoelina, adding that Madagascar aspires to achieve 100% energy access in the shortest possible time mainly by harnessing renewables.
Africa needs 25 billion USD in investment annually to meet its energy targets. The deliberations in the high-level panel underscored the role of partnerships in the area of finance, knowledge and technology transfer to help speed up existing and new initiatives to overcome constraints that African countries face in their quest for energy development.
Speaking on behalf of the World Bank, Ms Victoria Kwakwa and Mr Ousmane Diagana, respective Vice-Presidents for Eastern and Southern Africa, and Western and Central Africa, emphasized the World Bank’s commitment to partnering on this agenda. “The World Bank remains committed to helping countries strengthen their institutional and regulatory frameworks and develop strong utilities – both of which are essential to a thriving power sector,” said Kwakwa and Diagana.
In her concluding remarks, Commissioner Abou-Zeid assured the gathering that the AUC remains committed and ready to implement the recommendations made during the deliberations. “The various programmes that the Commission is already coordinating will be accelerated and aligned with the priority of achieving universal energy access by 2030,” reiterated the Commissioner.