The European Commission has today announced the results of the first call for proposals of an innovative programme for providing finance to bring electricity to the world's poorest citizens. This initiative also shows that the EU has been a leader in the campaign to provide Sustainable Energy for All.
Grants of €95 million have been awarded for16 projects across nine African countries to provide access to energy in rural areas, an amount which will be translated into projects costing more than €155 million (through co-financing support by applicants) and bring electricity to more than 2 million people.
Commissioner Piebalgs said: "This shows that real results are being delivered and that the EU is scaling up proven successful projects which have a high impact on poverty reduction through sustainable rural electrification. Energy is fundamental for every area of development; from creating jobs and boosting growth to improving healthcare and enabling people to cook safely.
Yet too often, people in rural areas have been left behind - a shocking 84% of those without access to energy now live in the countryside. We need to make sure that our work supports everyone, no matter where they live." This is a first step in a new innovative programme to bring electricity to many millions. Over the next 7 years the Commission aims to spend more than €2 billion in supporting energy in Africa. This will, in turn, leverage investments exceeding €10 billion, filling in the gaps for energy infrastructure and therefore allowing businesses, schools, homes and hospitals to get the electricity they require.
In addition, another Call for Proposals targeting rural electrification in fragile states (such as Burundi, Liberia, Somalia and Mali) is currently under evaluation and will deliver more benefits in these countries, where the energy needs are greatest. This will be the next step to ensure that EU's efforts to provide sustainable energy where it's most needed bear fruit.
The funding announced today is the result of a 'Call for Proposals', which is an EU funding system which enables NGOs, government and private sector organisations to receive a grant for EU Funding based on their proposal for an innovative project. The countries which will benefit from this initiative are: Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cameroon, Liberia, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Rwanda. The European Commission will promote another 40 proposals received -but not selected - to private and public donors and development agencies. Therefore, the list of countries and the number of rural population benefiting from the Call results could further increase.
In addition, infrastructure projects financed through our innovative blending instruments and the Technical Assistance Facility available for all Sub-Saharan African countries are already delivering results and contribute to the EU support for Sustainable Energy for All objectives.
Worldwide, about 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity. Up to a billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks. More than 2.6 billion people rely on solid fuels (i.e. traditional biomass and coal) for cooking and heating. A well-performing energy system that improves efficient access to modern forms of energy would strengthen the opportunities for the poorest people on the planet to escape the worst impacts of poverty. Access to energy provides people with the means to generate income - and that in turn creates wealth and new markets.
The fourth EU-Africa summit will take place in Brussels on 2-3 April under the theme "Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace". Building on the spirit of their 2007 Joint Strategy, Africa and the European Union will discuss as equal partners how to deepen cooperation under these three areas. Africa and the EU are jointly committed to foster human capital through education and training, to create additional incentives for investment, and to find ways of stimulating growth that will create jobs in particular for young people. They work closely together for peace and security, which are prerequisites for prosperity and growth.
The European Union will be represented by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. The summit will bring together the Heads of State and Government of the European Union and the African continent, together with the leaders of the EU and African Union institutions. A range of high-ranking international observers will also be associated.
"Both Africa and the European Union will come together to address the challenges that each of our continent faces and the ones that face the world as a whole. The theme we have chosen addresses the everyday concerns of our citizens- their safety and security, their job prospects, and their future as families and individuals. I am looking forward to a summit that will further reinforce our partnership and contribute to improve the quality of hope of our population ", said President Van Rompuy.
President Barroso ahead of the meeting said: "Fulfilling the vision set out in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the summit will deepen our partnership of equals and seize further cooperation opportunities by expanding political, economic, investment and trade ties. This includes the pursuit of durable and sustainable economic growth generating jobs for all our citizens".