ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 13, 2014 – The two day 2nd High Level Meeting of the African-EU Energy Partnership opened today at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. The meeting is bringing together African and European leaders and more than 400 other high-level delegates, with the stated aims of reviewing successes in the African energy sector and defining the priorities for the energy collaboration between Africa and Europe. The Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) is a long-term strategic framework for cooperation between Africa and the European Union (EU) on energy issues, which aims to create a political platform to share know-how, connect resources and work to further enhance and coordinate energy policies within Africa and between Africa and Europe.
The meeting was opened by the African Union’s Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Elham Ibrahim. Commissioner Ibrahim highlighted the efforts being undertaken to improve energy access in Africa, mentioning the different projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). However, she lamented the prevailing low energy access on the continent.
According to the African Energy Outlook 2040 undertaken as part of the PIDA by the AU, energy demand will grow by almost 6% per year up to 2040. Energy production of 700 gigawatts will be required in order to keep up with demand. Africa currently generates 125 gigawatts of electricity per annum and based on long-term projections, meeting Africa’s energy needs will require huge investments in the energy sector.
In 2010, the 1st High Level Meeting of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership set the AEEP 2020 political targets, which aimed to increase Africa’s energy output via renewable energy sources significantly by 2020 in order to meet Africa’s rising energy needs. However, if current rates of development and investment in the energy sector on the continent continue, the Africa-EU Energy Partnership Status Report shows that Africa will be unable to achieve several of the energy goals set for 2020.
During the opening ceremony, the Head of the European Union Delegation to the African Union, Mr. Gary Quince, noted that Africa’s recovery from the global financial crisis had been faster than that of any other continent, with Africa achieving growth rates of between 4 and 5% per annum in the 2010-2014 period. This recovery is a sign of Africa’s economic growth which, along with population growth, is fuelling the significant increase in Africa’s energy demands.
Speaking at a press conference after the opening ceremony of the 2nd High Level Meeting of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership, the Director of Infrastructure and Energy, Mr. Aboubakari Baba-Moussa, highlighted the important role that efficient and effective regulatory laws and bodies will play in safeguarding the mechanisms which need to be implemented in order for the AEEP 2020 Political Targets to be met. He pointed to the need for African nations to create and maintain strong institutions which will ensure transparency in the development of the continent’s energy infrastructure, which will foster transparent and fair business practices.
Further, as the AEEP moves forward, said Mr. Baba-Moussa, it is important to ensure that there is a fair exchange of services and skills, particularly aimed at providing African youth with the skills and knowledge which will enable them to compete in the international market place. He emphasized that the time for seeing Africa’s energy needs as a development challenge is over, and it is now time to focus on building the continent through co-operative ventures between African states and Africa’s international partners.