Minister says Africa-EU Energy partnership brought tangible results

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Addis Ababa, 14 February 2014 (WIC) - The three-day Second High Level Africa – European Union Energy Partnership Meeting aimed at reviewing success in the African energy sector, shape the future of Africa- EU relationship in the sector concluded yesterday.

Speaking at the meeting Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu said: “It is highly prominent in the development goals set out by African leaders as mentioned in various initiatives, primarily in the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) in which the development of energy infrastructure is given a central role in the overall social and economic development of Africa.”

The partnership has progressed and intensified with tangible results in the development of the energy sector, making the sector of major significance among the areas of cooperation and engagement between the two continents, the Minister added.

“We are in the process of raising electricity generation by five fold, from about 2,000 MW to 10,000 MW, bringing the electricity network to the rural people to raise the access rate from 16 to 75 per cent, modern lighting and cooking to 80 per cent of the population, reducing the dependence on petroleum for transport sector by introducing locally produced ethanol-blended and other initiatives. Currently, the Ethiopian electricity access has reached 54 per cent,” the minister told meeting participants.

Alemayehu also said: “We have been able to install so far the largest capacity of wind power in sub-Saharan Africa reaching 171MW, which will almost double in a few months time as the country completes the installation of another 153MW of wind power capacity. The expansion of geothermal power development is also underway including the largest private sector development of the resources to date in Africa that of 1,000 MW.

“We are all committed to work with all partners who are ready to engage in the development of the energy sector on a win-win principle recognizing the unique role to be played by each stakeholder – public and private sector, civil societies and academia. Africa's door is open to all who want to collaborate in mutually beneficial engagement in the development of the energy sector.

Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Africa Union Commission Elham Ebrahim on her part said that the objective of the meeting is to review the current status of the achievements so far confirm political commitment to the energy partnership and the achievements of the 2020 targets.

In Africa, more than anywhere else, access to modern energy is necessary to promote development, reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. According to International Energy Database, 1.4 billion people, about 20 per cent of the world population, currently have no access to electricity, of which 600 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.

European Commission Development Cooperation Commissioner Andris Piebalgs through video message said that energy is fundamental to development. “No energy means no sustainable economic growth, sustainable agriculture and decent education. In short no energy means no development.”

Three years ago, energy ministers of the Africa and EU set ambitions targets to be attained by 2020 to bring access to modern and sustainable energy to at least an additional 100 million Africans thereby doubling the capacity cross-border electricity interconnections, among others. (EH)