Experts Meet in Rabat to Discuss a Regional Policy for the Development of Renewable Energy in North Africa

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Rabat — The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa will hold an expert group meeting to discuss a regional policy framework for the development of renewable energy in North Africa. The meeting will take place on 24-25 September 2013 in Rabat (Morocco).

To reduce their dependency on fossil fuels and meet the growing demand for energy, especially electricity, the countries of the sub region have undertaken important reforms of their energy policies to promote energy efficiency, diversify the energy mix and exploit their renewable energy potential. Major projects are being implemented and others are planned.

However, in order to achieve the ambitious strategic goals for the development of renewable energy and industrial integration that the North African countries have set, significant funding is required. Funding together with appropriate technology solutions and know how can only be mobilized as part of a broader cooperation framework, promoting the creation of an integrated and competitive regional energy market. The Maghreb countries are already collaborating through the work of COMELEC to harmonize their regulatory frameworks and promote the creation of a Maghreb electricity market. Joint projects, particularly in the field of electricity have been undertaken. The Council of Ministers of Energy and Mines AMU stressed the importance of unifying efforts to promote complementarities, strengthen the partnerships between countries and the dialogue between the Northern partners' initiatives (Rabat, November 2010).

To support the ongoing efforts and leverage opportunities for cooperation and integration in the sector, ECA launched a consultation for the development of a regional policy document for the development of renewable energies. This document will provide a common vision and propose strategic priorities and objectives for cooperation, to better meet the major challenges of the sector (diversification of funding sources, based on innovative investments, partnerships, promoting industrial cooperation and technological transfer, development of an environment of- and appropriate regulation mechanisms and facilitation of trade and investment, etc.).

The experts' group meeting will discuss the regional policy document and is expected to highlight the benefits for countries in developing a common approach and to identify the main determinants. In particular, panelists will discuss prerequisites for the integration of electricity markets and the adoption of measures to remove barriers to trade and finance and strengthening industrial cooperation. The meeting will also propose an approach and operational mechanisms to promote ownership by national and regional actors for the regional policy document and its implementation.

Background

In the spirit of the decision of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, adopted in February 2009 and the Maputo Declaration of 2010 to develop renewable energy resources, and to support the ongoing efforts North Africa, the United Nations for Africa (ECA) Economic Commission launched a project on innovative financing mechanisms for renewable energy (RE) in North Africa in 2011. This project is in line with the objectives of the UN initiative "Sustainable Energy for all ", which seeks a 30% increase in the use of renewable energy in the world by 2030.

The project specifically aims to: (i) enhance awareness of issues and opportunities related to the development of renewable energy in North Africa (ii) improve the knowledge of stakeholders on options and mechanisms innovative funding RE and (iii) promoting regional cooperation and energy integration through the establishment of a strategic vision and common principles for reaching a common position, support the development of RE and help ensure the energy safety of the region.

Two studies have been completed:

- The renewable energy sector in North Africa: Current Situation and Prospects

- Innovative financing mechanisms for Renewable Energy in North Africa

Both studies demonstrated the significant potential of the RE region, the progress made by countries in terms of institutional and regulatory reforms, funding mechanisms and partnerships developed. Constraints were also highlighted, particularly with regard to the "non- integration of the region", which constitutes a barrier to large-scale investments in renewable energy. The recommendations of the two expert group meetings organized by the project in 2012, focused on the need to consider renewable energy as an important lever for regional energy- and economic integration.

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