First All Africa Energy Week Kicks Off In Maputo

AU Two thirds of Africans do not have access to electricity. It is to address this vast challenge to Africa’s development that the African Union (AU), the African Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) launched the first ever All Africa Energy Week in Maputo, capital city of Mozambique on 1st November 2010.

Taking place as a prelude to the Conference of Energy Ministers of Africa (CEMA) under the theme “Energy infrastructure and services in the context of climate change”, the All Africa Energy Week is taking stock of, monitoring progress achieved and building capacity in innovative knowledge. The event is also looking forward to accelerate progress through dialogue and partnerships toward the scaling up of investments in the African energy sector. It also aims at achieving more efficiency, coherence and coordinated actions towards increasing energy access and developing the energy sector in Africa.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the event, Mrs Elham Mahmood Ibrahim, AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy recalled that “Africa, despite its important fossil and renewable energy potential is the continent with the lowest access rate to modern energy and lowest annual average consumption per capita”. To reverse this unacceptable situation and to provide universal access to electricity by 2030, Mrs Ibrahim said that “a massive investment programme including an annual supplementary generation capacity of 7 000 MW are needed”. In this regard, Mrs Ibrahim stressed the “need to increase African endogenous resource mobilization through private and public sectors in order to finance the energy sector”. This increase will bring the opportunity to establish clean development mechanisms and therefore enable Africa to participate in the reduction of green house gas emissions.

As part of the efforts that have been already initiated, the AU Programme of Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) is set to establish a coherent framework for regional and continental infrastructure development.

In his opening speech, Mr Aires Bonifacio Aly, Prime Minister of Mozambique reiterated the paradoxical situation of Africa, a continent with many sources of energy but with low access to energy and a huge dependence on biomass. Against this background, he declared that the continent should develop energy transport infrastructure, diversify the sources of energy and act more sustainably in order to achieve universal access to energy. He added that alternative energies such as solar, hydropower and bio-fuels can be a solution for the increased demand while creating jobs and attracting investments.

Mr Amadou Thierno Diallo, representing the AfDB, recalled that the continent is at high risk even though it contributes only 4% of the global CO2 emissions. However, “the prevailing pattern of energy production and consumption on the continent is unsustainable for our forests, our adaptive capacities, and the competitiveness of our economies”, he said. Listing the various sources of energy available on the continent, Mr Diallo said that Africa should focus on “energy access based on efficient utilization of all our resources”. AfDB is “set to increase Africa’s climate financing by assisting countries in tapping existing climate financing mechanism and spearheading simpler climate financing mechanisms”.

In his address, Mr Antonio Pedro, representing the United nations economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), emphasized on the link between energy, poverty and human poverty as well as the link between affordable access to energy and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), challenges which can be exacerbated by climate change. However, he added that climate change “also offers opportunities for Africa to diversify its energy supply through advanced, cleaner, more efficient, affordable and cost effective energy technologies”.

The All Africa Energy Week will be followed by the Pan-African Investment Forum. Energy experts will meet from 3 to 4 November. Their recommendations will be submitted to ministers, meeting on 5th November 2010.

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