EU Energy is at the heart of development and an essential prerequisite for economic growth and reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). More generally, meeting growing energy needs will be one of the main challenges of the 21st century. Access to reliable and sustainable energy supplies will be essential both for Africa and Europe. The overall objectives of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership stress dialogue on energy access and energy security and improved access to reliable, secure, affordable, climate friendly and sustainable energy services for both continents. The partnership further focuses on increased energy infrastructure investments, including the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Who will benefit from the partnership and how?
In many countries in Africa, less than 10% of rural populations have access to electricity. The majority of African households still depend on traditional methods of wood or charcoal use for cooking, thus suffering from health problems induced by indoor air pollution. Many schools and clinics in rural Africa lack modern energy services.
Renewable energy is emerging as a fundamental requirement for addressing the challenges posed not only by climate change, but also by the need to increase economic growth. There were over 580 million Africans who were without access to electricity in 2008. Only 12% of Africa’s hydropower potential is currently exploited, compared with 70% in Europe, and there are many opportunities for solar, wind and geothermal energy.
Africa needs substantial investments in energy infrastructure to sustain its economic development and to reach the MDGs. This can only be achieved by creating conducive and reliable regulatory frameworks for attracting more private investment to the energy sector. The partnership is committed to scaling up investments and to mobilizing private capital. Diversification of energy supplies, with more use of local (often renewable) energy sources, in combination with increased regional power trade, is the main tool to increase energy security, which is crucial for both continents.
What has been achieved so far?
Among the numerous activities conducted in the framework of the AEEP, the following initiatives can be mentioned:
The First High Level Meeting of the AEEP (Vienna, September 2010) endorsed the Road Map of the partnership and approved a declaration including political targets to be achieved by 2020 on energy access, energy security, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Africa and the EU will take joint action to bring access to modern and sustainable energy services to at least an additional 100 million Africans by 2020. This will be a contribution to the African objective of giving access to modern and sustainable energy to an additional 250 million people. Further joint action includes:
- building 10,000 MW of new hydropower facilities
- building at least 5,000 MW of wind power
- building 500 MW of solar energy and tripling the capacity of other renewables
- raising energy efficiency in Africa in all sectors
The ACP-EU Energy Facility. This instrument focuses on local level access to energy services. The first Energy Facility is currently implementing 62 projects in 34 African countries at a total cost of €400 million, with a contribution from the European Commission of €180 million. For instance, in Mozambique, a project was financed with €1.9 million to provide electricity to 60 rural health centres and 120 medical staff house using solar energy. The ACP-EU energy Facility also funded with almost €10 million a project to improve access to electricity in peri-urban areas in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) member states, benefiting an estimated number of 57 000 households.
The EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (ITF), an instrument that enables the financing of major infrastructure projects in the African continent through the blending of grants and loans. Eligible projects in transport, water, energy and ICT are aimed at facilitating interconnectivity and regional integration.
Example: The Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme
The Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) was launched by the European Commission in coordination with the African Union and EU Member States in September 2010 and foresees an initial financial contribution of the EU of €5 million. The Programme aims at bringing relevant renewable energy technologies to the market in Africa; this is expected to trigger new industrial, trade and business cooperation between Africa and Europe. The Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme will mobilise the European resource base, experience and innovation capacity in order to build expertise and capacity in Africa. Thus, it will contribute to the exploration of Africa’s vast, untapped renewable energy potential and support the development of a new industrial sector in Africa. Both continents stand to benefit from this through increased employment opportunities, energy security and improved energy access.
The RECP will focus on technologies such as: Electricity generation from renewable energy, Renewable energy for cooking, water heating, Renewable fuel production and use, Energy efficient architecture and building design; Integrated systems, smart grids.
Example: The Felou hydropower scheme
One of the joint goals of the Energy partnership is the building 10,000 MW of new hydropower facilities in Africa. The 63 MW Felou hydropower scheme will be harnessing the natural power of the waterfalls on the Senegal river to produce low-cost, zero-emission hydroelectricity in an area suffering from chronic electricity shortages. Mali, Mauritania and Senegal are set to benefit enormously from this project. Power generated by the Felou project will help meet the three countries’ growing demand. It will also provide an alternative to electricity produced by fossil fuel based thermal power stations, which is much more expensive, both in economic and environmental terms. The project is supported through the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund with almost €10 million.
Example – The Caprivi Link Interconnector
The Caprivi Link Interconnector, which was inaugurated on 12 November 2010, links the electricity distribution grids of Namibia and Zambia, thereby increasing the capacity and stability of the Southern African Power pool. The €300 million project is mostly financed on the Namibian market and partially by loans of €35 million each from three European development finance institutions (AfD, EIB KfW). The project receives a €15 million grant in the form of interest subsidies from the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, equally shared between the three European Finance Institutions involved.
The Interconnector has a high relevance for the infrastructure in the region, it is the first project completed under the Trust Fund in Southern Africa, and its financing model has a high potential for replication. The project is particularly important in view of the anticipated energy shortage in the region. It is a major showcase for regional integration, notably with a view to further investments in energy of regional importance foreseen.
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