Ministers Convene in Abu Dhabi On the Africa Clean Energy Corridor

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Abu Dhabi — Following the launch of the Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC) by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in January 2013 to accelerate the adoption of renewable power options for the Eastern and Southern African Power Pools, a Ministerial meeting to consider the ACEC and an Action Agenda was held on 17 January 2014 in Abu Dhabi.

In attendance was the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Mr Carlos Lopes who spoke at the Ministerial luncheon and thereafter, moderated the two sessions of the Ministerial meeting.

Discussions aimed at facilitating the endorsement of a Communiqué on Renewable Energy for Accelerating Africa's Development.

Recognizing that African governments have demonstrated political determination and will, consensus was built on the central role of renewable energy in Africa's economic transformation.

It was underscored that renewable energy can play a significant role in unleashing industrialization and Africa can leapfrog to deploy cleaner energy technologies to mitigate against the impact of climate change.

The critical importance of quality data for integrated resource mapping and planning that fully considers renewable power options was also emphasized.

Also highlighted was the value of renewable energy as an incentive for economic development in areas ranging from agro-processing to better health and gender equality.

The discussions further underscored the importance of regional integration as a vehicle to reach economies of scale, facilitate knowledge and technological transfer, as well as presenting an opportunity to change perceptions.

For instance, landlocked countries should be perceived as being energy linked. By taking forward only the positive lessons from industrialized and emerging economies, Africa has the potential to pool and leverage its vast renewable energy resources to create a balance in its energy matrix, as well as lead in actually transforming the energy landscape away from the heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

Consensus was reached on the importance of conducting country and regional assessments across the continent.

The value of legislative and regulatory frameworks was further recognized as a key enabler to boosting investor confidence as was Capacity Building given that not all counties in Africa are at the same level in utilizing their renewable energy potential.

The meeting also agreed on the need to prepare a pipeline of bankable projects and explore alternative investments, such as sovereign wealth funds and pension funds as opposed to relying solely on traditional investments to finance projects.

The meeting noted that Africa is also injecting in its own investments and this serves as a strong signal to developers and financiers about the commitment of African countries to address the continent's infrastructure challenges.

The meeting successfully resulted in the endorsement of the Communiqué by Ministers responsible for Energy and by Heads of delegations of African countries.

It is envisioned that the ECA and IRENA will now collaborate on improving the quality of data and information on renewable energy as the basis for better decision making as well as for investigating alternative investment options.

Discussants included the Minister of Energy (Djibouti), Minister of Water and Energy (Ethiopia), Minister of Energy (Mozambique), Minister of Energy (South Africa), Minister of State of Electricity and Dams (Sudan), Deputy Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environment (Zambia), and the Ambassador for Egypt.

Additional discussants included international development partners representing Germany, Italy, UAE and China, as well as African development organizations that included the East African Community, NEPAD and the African Development Bank.

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