More than 1.3 billion people in the world, mainly concentrated in rural and peri-urban areas of developing countries, do not have access to electricity and 2.7 billion still rely on traditional biomass for cooking. Access to energy is nonetheless a fundamental prerequisite for economic growth and to satisfy basic human needs such as health, education, employement, cooking, communication and proper housing.
If the Millenium Development Goals - particularly poverty eradication - are to be met, people everywhere need access to modern, affordable energy services. The European Union has made energy a higher priority in it's development policy, as it is reflected by the adoption in 2009 of the Council conclusions on access to sustainable energy sources at local level in developing countries and of the European Parliament resolution of 2 February 2012 on EU development cooperation in support of the objective of universal energy access by 2030.
The European Union has been engaged for a long time in supporting energy access through its development cooperation. In order to face the challenge, two political frameworks where developed: the EU Energy Initiative for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development(EUEI) and the EU-Africa Energy Partnership.
The EU Energy Initiative for Poverty eradication and Sustainable Development
The European Union Energy Initiativewas launched at the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg as a joint commitment by the EU Member States and the Commission to give priority to the important role of energy in poverty alleviation. The Initiative is a framework for policy dialogue with developing countries and other partners, and also for specific actions and partnerships, supported by the Commission and Member States, and developed in close collaboration with Developing Countries. The EUEI celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2012.
The EUEI has made energy a higher priority in EU development policy, being instrumental in the launching of the EU-Africa Energy Partnership and the creation of some specific instruments such as:
The EU-Africa energy partnership
The Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) is one of the eight partnerships of the Africa-EU Joint Strategy adopted by African and European Heads of State and Government in Lisbon in December 2007. Under this partnership of equals, the two continents share their knowhow and resources, tune their complementary interests and closely link their policies to meet the energy challenge hand in hand.
With a focus on energy issues of strategic importance, the AEEP is structured as a long term framework for political dialogue and cooperation between Africa and the European Union (EU), reflecting their mutual needs.
The overall objective of the AEEP is improved access to reliable, secure, affordable, cost-effective, climate friendly and sustainable energy services for both continents, with a special focus on achieving the MDGs in Africa. In order to achieve its overall objective, the AEEP will focus its efforts on concrete, realistic, visible targets to be attained by 2020, as agreed by the First High Level Meeting of the AEEP held in Vienna on 14–15 September 2010. Specific initiatives will focus on six priority areas:
- Energy access;
- Energy security;
- Renewable energy and energy efficiency;
- Institutional capacity building;
- Scaling-up investment; and