_: Members of Parliament from the Portfolio Committee on Energy and their counterparts from the Pan African Parliament have developed an action plan on how legislators can play a role in ensuring that as many Africans as possible have access to affordable and sustainable energy.
The MPs were attending a three-day programme in Midrand, including a two-day workshop which ended yesterday. The workshop agreed on a broad action plan that would, amongst others, look at harmonising rationalising energy policies, laws and regulations. According to the Committee Chairperson, Mr Sisa Njikelana, this harmonisation process should be linked to NEPAD’s priority projects.
The need for effective research into the energy sector was strongly highlighted by all MPs at the workshop. They added that such research outcomes would help empower them to make informed decisions on how to successfully intervene and provide leadership in this sector.
PAP MPs from Burkina Faso, Sudan, Niger, Algeria, Tanzania and Sierra Leone agreed with their South African counterparts on having a need for rural electrification and focus on renewable energy. According to Mr Njikelana, such emphasis has a potential of fast-tracking development in the many under-developed areas of Africa.
The plan also identifies the need for African conference on energy to map out an all inclusive approach on energy and other related matters. The plan also talks about a need to pay a particular focus on African and global energy trade and its impact on the continent.
Partnerships with the private sector towards ensuring sustainable energy and ratification of international treaties, particularly as they relate to energy also formed part of the plan. Awareness and advocacy campaigns on energy issues were also highlighted as a critical element in ensuring that Africans on the ground play their role in ensuring enhanced supply of and access to energy.
Delegates agreed on the importance of the initiative and reached a consensus that other political and economic platforms, on which the forum could table its plans for broader support, ought to be explored.
In this regard, it is envisaged working with political and economical forums such as African Union, Inter-Parliamentary Union, ECOWAS Parliament, European Parliament, Inter-Parliamentary Union as well as the South American Parliament Union of South America and other key stakeholders in the energy sector is also of cardinal importance.
The commitment by MPs was also informed by views of many participants who identified political will as the main ingredient in realising sustainable access to energy in Africa. Participants such as the Africa Institute of South Africa, International Energy Agency, SALGA and NEPAD agreed that poor planning which is linked to outdated infrastructure, technologies and insufficient expertise and skills to manage the existing infrastructure were amongst the main causes for energy challenges in Africa.
These role players conceded that solving energy problems would require adequate planning, investment, efficient use of resources and policy direction, hence their efforts to ensure that as many stakeholders are rallied behind this noble initiative.
The respective MPs would take these recommendations for adoption and refinement by their respective Parliaments which would be followed by a post-endorsement implementation workshop.