Ministers from African countries representing nearly three-quarters of the continent’s energy consumption and more than half of its population met with global energy leaders today to consider how to revitalise the African energy sector and enable a sustainable economic recovery after the pandemic.
Under the theme of Securing Africa’s Energy Future in the Wake of COVID-19, the Second AUC-IEA Ministerial Forum was chaired by Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, and Mr Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa.
High-level officials at the virtual Ministerial meeting represented a diverse range of African economies. Energy leaders from major global economies also took part, along with senior figures from international organisations, companies and civil society.
In her opening remarks, H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union (AU) underscored the importance of concerted efforts in addressing the different elements of securing Africa’s energy future following the devastating effects of COVID-19. “It is critical that the recovery is fast, resilient and sustainable. It is equally important that the recovery delivers jobs, supports livelihoods and leaves no one behind, especially women and youth. For this to happen, we must work in partnership to expand public and private investments and encourage innovations”, emphasized Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid.
The AU Commissioner further added that a robust energy sector is necessary building upon policy gains so far made in encouraging grid and off-grid investments with high participation of the private sector. “The AU Commission has been at the fore front of leading harmonisation of policy and regulatory framework in the energy sector in Africa to stimulate investments and build a strong energy market. Another important aspect is the need for tapping into the innovations of digitalisation and creative business models especially from the private sector”, said the Commissioner. “Today’s forum will benefit from the inputs of private sector and other stakeholders as well as the experiences of different Member States to shape further improvements to policy and strategy for the fast recovery and increased investments that Africa to drive the recovery”, concluded the Commissioner Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid.
“I’m delighted that so many Ministers and other energy leaders from across Africa and around the world came together today to focus on how Africa can emerge from this crisis with stronger momentum behind the development of its energy sector – notably through clean energy technologies like solar power”, said Dr Birol. “I’d like to thank Commissioner Abou-Zeid and Minister Mantashe for the excellent collaboration that resulted in today’s valuable dialogue. I’m sure the insights from our discussions will help inform and enhance the work of the IEA and other organisations that took part”, concluded the IEA Executive Director.
Addressing the virtual Ministerial meeting, H.E. Mr. Samson Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, South Africa said “We appeal to developed economies to support developing economies to develop systematically. Allow us to have a balanced approach & have access to a combination of energy technologies & sources as we move to low carbon emissions”. The Minister shed light on the development of an Economic Reconstruction & Recovery Plan, that gives targets & responsibilities to sectors in the productive economy.
Recognising the severe impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on African economies and the importance of the energy sector for continued economic development across the continent, participants agreed on the urgent need to enhance actions to ensure sustainable economic recovery and significantly scale up energy investments over the next three years.
Discussions covered areas such as innovation and how to counter the negative effects of the pandemic on efforts to increase the number of people with access to electricity and clean cooking in Africa, with an emphasis on cooperation and collective action. Participants underscored that Africa is facing major challenges in obtaining the financing and new investments it requires to meet its immense structural transformation needs – an essential part of ensuring a resilient and dynamic energy sector that can power a successful economic recovery.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union (AU).