Motion for a resolution on access to energy in developing countries – B8-2016-1227

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 7 on access to energy and SDGs 12 and 13 on sustainable consumption and production and on climate change, respectively,

–  having regard to the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative launched by the UN in 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission’s ‘Energising Development’ initiative, launched in 2012, to provide access to sustainable energy for an additional 500 million people in developing countries by 2030,

–  having regard to Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which provides that poverty reduction and, in the longer term, poverty eradication is the primary objective of the EU’s development policy,

–  having regard to Article 191 of the TFEU and the EU’s climate policy,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation(1) (DCI), and in particular Annex I thereto, which includes provisions on sustainable energy in geographic programmes, and Annex II thereto, which includes provisions on the sustainable energy component of the DCI’s Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC) thematic programme,

–  having regard to the relevant programming documents under the DCI and the European Development Fund (EDF), including the National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) that include an energy focal sector, and the Annual Action Programmes (AAPs) implementing these NIPs,

–  having regard to the 2014 Africa Clean Energy Corridor initiative, which seeks to promote the accelerated deployment of renewable energy in Africa, and to reduce carbon emissions and dependence on imported fossil fuels,

–  having regard to its scrutiny of relevant draft DCI and EDF programming documents before they are approved by the DCI and EDF committees,

–  having regard to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Paris, in December 2015, and the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal,

–  having regard to the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) held in Marrakech on 7-18 November 2016,

–  having regard to the report of 16 November 2000 of the World Commission on Dams: ‘A new framework for decision-making’,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 27 September 2011 on financing of reinforcement of dam infrastructure in developing countries(2), of 2 February 2012 on EU development cooperation in support of the objective of universal energy access by 2030(3), and of 12 June 2012 on engaging in energy policy cooperation with partners beyond our borders: A strategic approach to secure, sustainable and competitive energy supply(4) ,

–  having regard to the Special Report No 15/2015 of 12 March 2015 of the EU Court of Auditors on ACP-EU Energy Facility Support for Renewable Energy in East Africa,

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on access to energy in developing countries (O-000134/2016 – B8‑1809/2016),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Development,

–  having regard to Rules 128(5) and 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas sustainable access to affordable, reliable and safe energy is crucial for the satisfaction of basic human needs and rights, including access to clean water, sanitation, a safe and secure environment, health care, heating and education, is essential for virtually all kinds of economic activity, and is a key driver of development; whereas there are also security and geopolitical aspects of access to energy and whereas energy issues can become drivers of conflicts;

B.  whereas 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity and for an even higher number this access is unreliable; whereas half of those without access to electricity live in Africa; whereas this number is growing, since the population on this continent is increasing at a faster pace than that at which access to energy is being extended;

C.  whereas from an electricity-access point of view sub-Saharan Africa’s situation is the worst worldwide, but as this region’s power sector evolves it is likely that by 2040 sub-Saharan-Africa will consume as much electricity as India and Latin America combined did in 2010;

D.  whereas more than 70 % of Africa’s total energy consumption comes from renewable sources, almost all of which, however, is derived from traditional uses of biomass; whereas huge opportunities for including other sources remain, especially in terms of solar and wind energy;

E.  whereas demographic trends in Africa will have a major impact on land-use requirements for crop production, as well as on the need for fuel wood;

F.  whereas global deforestation accounts for nearly 20 % of all CO2 emissions; and whereas strong reliance on traditional biomass and inefficient cooking stoves put forest and bush lands at risk in many regions of the African continent;

G.  whereas 2.3 billion people use traditional biomass such as charcoal for cooking and this often has serious adverse health and environmental implications; whereas women carry a disproportionate share of the burden of using such materials, including collecting firewood, which can be time-consuming and also put their security at risk; whereas using improved cook-stoves reduces the time and effort required for the preparation of meals;

H.  whereas Africa is both the continent with the greatest potential for renewable energy on the planet and the one lagging furthest behind in terms of electrification;

I.  whereas energy poverty is most widespread in rural areas, but provision of access to energy in the expanding areas of rapidly growing cities is also a massive challenge, given the realities of geography, connectivity and lack of infrastructure, and whereas the poorest countries in Africa are those with the highest energy bills;

J.  whereas it is vital to keep developing the still young rural electrification markets until they become mature and self-sustainable and to further support programmes focusing on renewable, energy-efficient, small-scale and decentralised energy solutions;

K.  whereas energy poverty also has a gender dimension; whereas the consequences of energy poverty are worse for women;

L.  whereas ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 is universal Sustainable Development Goal 7; whereas the honouring of climate action commitments also requires vigorous and judicious efforts in the energy area, and whereas Africa therefore faces a double-edged challenge as it has to drastically increase its citizens’ access to basic power services and at the same time meet its commitments under the climate change agreement;

M.  whereas the United Nations Environment Programme report entitled ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016’ indicates that the annual global investment in new renewable capacity was more than double those in coal and gas power stations in 2015; whereas the 2015 renewable energy market was dominated by solar photovoltaics and wind; and whereas for the first time in 2015, renewables in investments were higher in developing countries than developed nations;

N.  whereas the report of the World Commission on Dams of 16 November 2000 concludes that, while large dams have failed to produce as much electricity, provide as much water, or control as much flood damage as was expected, they have had huge social and environmental impacts, and efforts to mitigate these impacts have been largely unsuccessful;

O.  whereas the objective of achieving universal access to energy is interwoven with the objective of achieving climate justice;

P.  whereas climate justice links human rights and development in order to achieve a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable people and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its impacts equitably and fairly;

Q.  whereas the inconsistent flow of climate finance and technology transfer in relation to climate change may jeopardise African leaders’ willingness to develop renewable energy to fulfil the industrialisation agenda of the continent;

R.  whereas the Paris Agreement underlines the need to promote universal access to sustainable energy in developing countries, in particular in Africa, by strengthening the development of renewable energies;

S.  whereas ample evidence and a broad consensus exist that small-scale, decentralised production of renewable energy, and local networks and off-grid solutions are often the most efficient, and that such solutions tend to produce the biggest contributions to general development progress and are best at minimising or avoiding adverse impacts on the environment;

T.  whereas local production of renewable energy is emphasised in the DCI regulation and DCI and EDF programmes, and projects in the energy area should be designed so as to reflect the insight of the advantages of decentralised production of renewable energy;

U.  whereas EU development assistance in the energy area has risen sharply and such expenditure in the 2014-2020 is planned to reach EUR  3.5 billion; whereas 30 NIPs, half of which are for African countries, include an energy focal sector;

V.  whereas the ACP-EU Energy Facility, which was created in June 2005, is aimed at promoting access to modern energy services for the poor in rural and peri-urban areas, with a strong focus on sub-Saharan Africa and renewable energy; whereas the related Special Report No 15/2015 of the EU Court of Auditors made a number of recommendations to the Commission for selecting projects more rigorously, strengthening their monitoring and increasing their sustainability prospects;

W.  whereas an EU Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI) has recently been launched, and whereas other financing arrangements include facilities for combining EU grants with loans or equity from public and private financiers (blending facilities) for different parts of the world, the European Investment Bank’s activities in the energy area under its external lending mandate and the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund’s operations in the energy sector;

X.  whereas a growing contribution from private investment is necessary for achieving SDG 7; whereas any decision to promote the use of public-private partnerships through blending in developing countries should be based on a thorough assessment of these mechanisms, and on the lessons learned from past experience; whereas grant contributions to already commercially viable projects must in all circumstances be avoided;

Y.  whereas it must be a priority to train local specialised and highly specialised staff in order to ensure access to energy in developing countries, and whereas a substantial portion of funding must be devoted to that;

Z.  whereas global fossil fuel subsidies are in the order of USD 500 billion per year, cause increases in, rather than reductions of, greenhouse gas emissions, and tend to benefit relatively well-off people more than the poor; whereas these subsidies should be phased out and by doing so, governments can free up considerable funds for much more efficient social policies and for extending access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, reducing inequalities and improving quality of life;

1.  Recalls that access to energy accelerates development; draws attention to the scale and implications of energy poverty in developing countries and to the EU’s strong involvement in efforts to reduce such poverty; underlines the need for strong and concerted efforts by governments, civil society and other stakeholders in affected countries and by international partners to reduce energy poverty and attain SDG 7, which requires particular efforts in remote rural areas, especially in off-grid energy regions; recalls that climate change and trade policies should be mutually supportive in achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication in line with the Agenda 2030 and with the Paris Agreement;

2.  Stresses the strong relationship between energy and potential security issues and considers that energy governance, while also difficult to implement, is essential to economic and human development in developing countries;

3.  Points out that electrification is achieved thanks to the support of public authorities, which in turn depends on the sound governance of energy distribution services and on states being able to perform their sovereign functions;

4.  Calls for the EU to include a gender dimension in all its energy policies focusing on women with particular needs;

5.  Supports the Commission’s ‘Energising Development’ initiative to provide access to sustainable energy for an additional 500 million people in developing countries by 2030 through programme elements such as the creation of a Technical Assistance Facility, drawing upon EU experts to develop technical expertise in developing countries, and to promote capacity building and technology transfer; emphasises the role of energy as an enabler for many other areas, such as health, education, clean water, agriculture, as well as telecommunication and internet connectivity; stresses that the ‘Energising Development’ initiative must be fully aligned with the EU development policy objectives stated in the Lisbon Treaty;

6.  Considers that, although brief, the relevant provisions in the DCI regulation, co-decided by Parliament and the Council, represent a sound basis for EU development assistance in the energy area; recalls that these provisions focus on access to energy and emphasise local and regional renewable energy and on ensuring access for poor people in remote regions;

7.  Welcomes ElectriFI, which provides a flexible and inclusive structure, allowing the participation of different partners such as the private sector, public institutions and local authorities, which may benefit in equal measure under the same market-based conditions, with due account for the needs and opportunities in each targeted country/region; recalls that the involvement of partners from the local private sector and civil society organisations will be instrumental in enhancing effectiveness and ownership of the actions deployed;

8.  Calls on the Commission to regularly report on its website what progress has been made towards achieving the target of its ‘Energising Development’ initiative, to specify what proportion of the total funding for energy in developing countries has gone to renewable energy, remote regions, staff training, the creation of local know-how and skills and to local and off-grid solutions, and to briefly, but as precisely as possible, describe the involvement of different stakeholders in concluded and ongoing actions;

9.  Highlights the high potential of renewable energy resources in Africa in terms of solar and wind production for ensuring access to energy for all, especially in rural areas; points out that the price of photovoltaic equipment has a fundamental influence on the actual exploitation of the solar potential in Africa; urges therefore that the EU and its Member States facilitate technology transfer for its deployment in developing countries;

10.  Notes that Africa has about 10 % of the world’s theoretical hydropower potential; recalls that global warming will affect patterns of precipitation, representing therefore a growing challenge in terms of access to water and food security; recalls also that the World Commission on Dams has indicated that the poor, other vulnerable groups and future generations are likely to bear a disproportionate share of the social and environmental costs of large dam projects without gaining a commensurate share of the economic benefits; reiterates that small hydropower dams are more sustainable and economically viable than large hydropower dams;

11.  Recommends that financing agencies (bilateral aid agencies, multilateral development banks, Export Credit Agencies, and the EIB) ensure that any dam option for which financing is approved complies with World Commission on Dams guidelines; stresses, in particular, that any planning of dams should be evaluated according to five values: equity, efficiency, participatory decision-making, sustainability and accountability;

12.  Recalls that bioenergy is a complex energy source interconnected to agriculture, forestry, industry and which impacts on the ecosystems and biodiversity; notes, in particular, that the development of biomass for energy poses new threats, i.e. in terms of food security, land tenure security, deforestation and degradation of lands; recalls that the water footprint of bioenergy should also be taken into account, since many parts of Africa are already experiencing water shortage with about one-third of Africa’s productive area already classified as dryland;

13.  Stresses the need to support highly efficient cooking stoves and the transition to modern cooking fuels in order to counteract the fast depletion of wood resources;

14.  Is encouraged by the existence of various initiatives at international level to promote sustainable energy access in developing countries, in particular in Africa, but insists on the need to coordinate them better for greater efficiency; calls for the EU and its Member States to provide support and technical assistance in the implementation of the Action Plan of the Africa Clean Energy Corridor initiative, which seeks to meet half of total electricity demand from clean, indigenous, cost-effective renewable resources by 2030, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions; calls for closer cooperation between funding bodies, the private sector and the governments of developing countries so as to speed up achievement of the targets; emphasises the need for maintenance support with sufficient access to spare parts supply and locally trained technical experts;

15.  Supports the use of blending where this represents the most efficient use of funds for development assistance in the pursuit of SDG 7, where the focus is on small-scale projects and where participating enterprises are required to practise corporate social responsibility; calls on the Commission to carefully avoid granting funds to any project which would be viable without these funds, even if a private investor applies for them; considers that the development effectiveness principles must also be followed in blending operations and notes that alignment with beneficiary countries’ development plans, broad stakeholder involvement, transparency and accountability, coordination and efficiency as well as measurable and tangible results are important;

16.  Calls for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies and encourages allocation of these freed-up funds to efficient social policies and to actions for eradicating energy poverty in developing countries;

17.  Emphasises that the only ultimate measure of success of the EU’s actions is the size of the contribution they make towards the attainment of universal access to energy, with minimum greenhouse gas emissions, taking into account the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.


OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, p. 44.


OJ C 56 E, 26.2.2013, p. 67.


OJ C 239 E, 28.8.2013, p. 83.


OJ C 332 E, 15.11.2013, p.28.

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