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Boosting sustainable energy in Africa – African and European partners gather at Conakry Forum

News 12 June 2019 Brussels

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There are over 650 million people in Africa who have no access to electricity, a sharp contrast with the continent’s renewable energy potential. 

The Renewable Energy Forum held in Conakry on 10-14 June aims to boost sustainable energy in Africa to contribute to sustainable growth and for the benefit of individuals. Held under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Guinea and co-organised with the European Commission, the forum brings together key actors from the public and private sector as well as civil society and academia from different EU and African countries to present an overview of the business and support opportunities available.

Two key events take place in parallel to the Forum: the “Africa Renewable Energy Initiative” (AREI) Extraordinary Board and the second meeting of the Working Groups of the High-Level Platform on Sustainable Energy Investments in Africa (SEI Platform).  The latter is a task force of experts from both continents created under the new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs that will provide forward-looking recommendations to seize the potential of sustainable energy in Africa.

Stefano Manservisi, Director General for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission, underlined the EU’s commitment in the field sustainable energy cooperation with Africa: “The EU is strongly committed to support Africa in its transition to clean energy. For the period 2014-2020, we earmarked EUR 2.7 billion to sustainable energy cooperation with Africa in order to boost economic and social development and fight climate change. These investments will improve access to energy in Africa with all the related benefits in people’s everyday life: health, education, food security and job creation.”

Manservisi also announced a reinforced collaboration with the international Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in three areas: boosting private sector investments, technical assistance and sectoral policy dialogue.

Africa is a rich continent when it comes to sustainable energy resources. At the same time, the continent has very low access to modern energy services and is highly vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation. Access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy remains a priority for the EU, as it has major impacts on people’s everyday lives. Better access to sustainable energy has a positive impact on education, health, food security, environment, water, poverty eradication, entrepreneurship and job creation.

EU support to sustainable energy in Africa

For the period 2014-2020 the EU has allocated around €2.7 billion to sustainable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, and provides technical assistance to African countries in this field. A concrete example of the use of these funds is the 1400 kilometres of high voltage that connect Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, allowing for instance the latter to export its hydropower potential of 6000 megawatts.

The EU’s External Investment Plan has a dedicated window (under the European Fund for Sustainable Development) on sustainable energy and connectivity, which will provide guarantees of up to €600 million to unlock private investments in this sector. An example of a guarantee scheme endorsed is Room2Run (up to €87 million), set up in collaboration with the African Development Bank. It will result in €1-2 billion of new investments in renewable energy in Africa and will create around 15,000 jobs and over 1GW new capacity. Blending operations, mixing grants and private investment are also being set up.

Through the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI), the EU further boosts investments in the sustainable energy sector in Africa and elsewhere. The 17 ongoing projects seek to generate 1.3 million MWh of electricity, which would provide about 10 million people with electricity. It would also result in 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided (equivalent to 212,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year).

On the African side, acknowledging the urgent need to address the many challenges related to access to energy and climate change, the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) was launched in 2015. It is an African-led initiative that aims to add 10 GW to renewable energy production in Africa by 2020 and achieve 300 GW by 2030.

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