Building capacity to help Africa trade better

First Ordinary Session of the African Union STC Sub-Committee on Energy


First Ordinary Session of the African Union STC Sub-Committee on Energy

First Ordinary Session of the African Union STC Sub-Committee on Energy
Photo credit: Jon Jensen | CNN

The African Union, in collaboration with Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is organizing the First Ordinary Session of the STC Sub-Committee on Energy of the STC on Transport, Intercontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIET), from 21-23 March, 2018 in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

The overall objective of the STC-TTIIET Sub-Committee on Energy meeting is to take stock of the outcomes of the July 2017 summit and the approved Action Plans on energy. The STC-TTIIET Sub-Committee on Energy will deliberate on a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) System to follow-up on the implementation of the Action Plans on energy.

The Meeting is composed of a 2-day meeting of experts and a Ministerial Session on the last day. The STC-TTIIET Sub-Committee Meeting on Energy will be attended by (1) Ministers of Energy from Member States; (2) Continental and Regional Organizations; (3) Energy Experts; (4) Development Partners; (5) academia and Civil Society organisations.


The First Ordinary Session of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIIET) was held in March 2017 in Lomé, Togo. The STC-TTIIET in accordance with its rules of proceedings, adopted the creation of three sub-committees including: (a) Sub-Committee on Energy, (b) Sub-Committee on Transport and (c) the Sub-Committee on Tourism. The STC-TTIIET also adopted Plans of Actions for the various sub-sectors.

The outcomes of the Lomé STC-TTIIET were considered by the AU Summit in July 2017, with recommendation for the AUC to implement the recommendations of Lomé STC-TTIIET. In this context, the Bureau of the STC-TTIIET held its first meeting in Addis Ababa on 25-26 July 2017 and as an outcome, recommended the operationalization of the sub-committees of the STC-TTIIET.

The Energy sector Plans of Action covers key areas including energy technologies, policies, regulations and infrastructure development. There are several on-going projects at the continental and regional levels including the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the AfDB New Deal on Energy, the Africa Clean Energy Corridor, the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility, the Programme Harmonisation of Regulatory Frameworks in the African Energy Sector, the Programme on Africa Bioenergy Policy Framework and Guidelines, among others.

The major role of the STC Sub-Committee on Energy is to monitor and evaluate the implementation of these vital continental and regional projects including ensuring availability of adequate financial and human resources for implementation.

The main decisions of the Lomé STC-TTIET on energy technologies include the operationalization of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) and the AfDB New Deal on Energy. The main decisions on energy policies and regulations include the continued implementation of the programme on Harmonised Regulatory Frameworks in the Energy Sector and the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) in Africa Initiative.

The full set of conference papers is available here.

AFREC Technical Paper on African Energy Information System and Database

Energy is essential for human development and reliable energy information is imperative for formulating sound energy policies and designing strategic development and investment plans. However, the quality and depth of energy information and statistical databanks available in Africa are either absent or fall below the required level of international standards.

Therefore, one of the prime responsibilities of the African Energy Commission (AFREC) is to create and manage a comprehensive energy database and Information System for Africa through the establishment of the “African Energy Information System and Database” (AEIS) and make it available for use by the end-users in the African Member States and world energy communities. AFREC has to demonstrate this task in most effective manner in order to be recognized and supported by the highest levels of African governments and specialized institutions.

It is evident from the daily practices that reliable information is fundamental to decision making process associated with all energy activities. No policies can be developed without careful analysis of the situation under consideration and that requires information and perfect data. The implication though is that data and information must be collected and prepared in a usable format, continually updated and disseminated through various channels to the end users. AFREC has to undertake such a task through a framework of networking and partnership with various African and international partners and stakeholders.

On the other hand, while data and information is but one piece of the larger range of energy development process, provision of adequate training and capacity building to energy experts and energy statisticians in the African Member States remains essential to the overall development practices.

It is within this context that AFREC has taken all measures to establish and manage the AEIS and to provide training on data collection and energy balances to its Focal Points and energy statisticians in the African ministries in charge of energy. The information and inter-linkages with good training in data energy collection, refinement and delivery to a central databank at the AFREC’s Headquarters represent a central issue in the establishment of the energy databank upon which the Information System will be structured around.

Implementation of the AEIS

  1. The objective of the creation of an African Energy Information System and Database (AEIS) as instructed by the AFREC’s Convention is to “Design, create and update an energy continental data base and facilitate rapid dissemination of information and exchange of information among Member States, as well as among the Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

  2. Since the creation of such system will be the first ever in Africa AFREC collaborated with the International Energy Agency (IEA), which is famous globally in the operation of energy statistics database to support AFREC with technical knowledge, know-how and training of its National Focal Points in the Member States. AFREC also collaborated with the Ministers in-Charge of Energy in Africa to establish a network of National Focal Points in the ministries in-charge of energy around the continent to collect the energy data of their countries and assist in the creation of the system.

  3. While AFREC adopted the creation of a series of energy databases it started in 2012 with the creation the “African Energy Statistics Database” and since then it published annual editions for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

  4. In 2014, AFREC started creation of additional African energy databases including the following 8:

    • African Energy Infrastructure Database
    • African Energy-related Socioeconomic Database
    • African Energy Efficiency Indicators Database
    • African Solar Energy Radiation Database
    • African Wind Energy Resources Database
    • African Hydropower Resources Database
    • African Geothermal Energy Resources Database
    • African Bioenergy Resources Database

  5. In addition to the above databases AFREC also planned to create the following databases:

    • African Hydrocarbons Resources Database (Oil, Gas, Oil / Gas-Shale, Refineries, Pipelines / Interconnections)
    • African Coal Resources Database (consumption rates, total reserves, power plants)
    • African Electricity Sector Database
    • African Energy Prices Database (Crude Oil, Oil Products, Electricity, Gas, Coal, Wood fuel, Charcoal)
    • African Energy-related Environmental Database (Carbon Emission, Climate Change)
    • African Nuclear Energy Database (power plants, prospects, uranium deposits)

  6. In order to undertake this program AFREC in collaboration of the Energy Ministers established National Focal Points for collecting national data on energy statistics in most Member States and there is process for establishing another group of National Focal Points for collecting national data of energy efficiency indicators of which 18 countries have already nominated their experts.

  7. The African Development Bank (AfDB) established a data Portal to AFREC free in its system which is also managed by its technical experts. The cost of such a system is US$100,000.

  8. AFREC in collaboration with the IEA provided the National Focal Points with continuing regional and continental training and capacity building session in energy statistics and database. AFREC/IEA provided training to 474 energy statistics experts in the Member States

Africa Clean Energy Corridor / West Africa Clean Energy Corridor

The Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC) is a regional initiative that seeks to secure the accelerated development of renewable energy potential and cross-border trade of renewable power within the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) and Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). The initiative builds upon the strong political commitment of African leaders to strengthen regional institutions and transmission infrastructure, forming large competitive markets and lowering costs across production sectors. By creating a larger regional electricity market, the ACEC could attract investments to meet 40-50% of power needs in the EAPP and SAPP regions by 2030. Combined efforts will also diversify resource availability, improve energy security and foster investment opportunities and job growth.

Scaling up renewable energy also offers a comprehensive opportunity to avoid lock-ins with carbon-intensive infrastructure and leapfrog towards a low-carbon future. Such region-wide renewable energy deployment could cut the annual CO2 emission level in 2030 by 310 Mega tonnes (Mt), translating into 2,500 Mt savings of cumulative CO2 emissions between 2010 and 2030 while increasing electricity supply by 2.5 times.

Development of the ACEC is guided by a Communiqué endorsed by Ministers and heads of delegations from the EAPP and SAPP countries in January 2014. Since then, support for the initiative has expanded exponentially, with the additional engagement of more than 30 governments, regional organizations, development partners and financial institutions.

The Communiqué called for an Action Agenda with five main pillars of (i) Zoning and Resource Assessment to identify sites for renewable power generation in areas with high resource potential and suitable transmission routes; (ii) National and Regional Planning to fully consider cost-effective renewable power options; (iii) Enabling Frameworks for Investment to open markets and reduce financing costs; (iv) Capacity Building to plan, operate, maintain and govern power grids and markets with higher shares of renewable electricity generation; and (v) Public Information and Awareness Raising on how the corridor can provide secure, sustainable and affordable energy.

In response to the high interest from other African sub-regions and benefitting from the experiences gained during the initiation and development of ACEC, IRENA initiated the process in 2015 to expand the initiative to West Africa through the West Africa Clean Energy Corridor (WACEC). WACEC aims to support the region’s ongoing efforts to address the key energy challenges, including, increasing power demand-supply imbalance, high cost of power generation, and poor access to energy in coordination and collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.

The African Union Bioenergy Development in Africa Programme

The African Union Commission (AU) in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) initiated a Programme to modernize the bioenergy sector in Africa, through a consultative process spanning several years and involving a cross section of stakeholders and African member States. This culminated in the development of the African Bioenergy Framework and Policy Guidelines in 2013. The purpose of the Framework is to (a) build consensus on shared framework that inspires and provides guidance to individual countries and regions in developing bioenergy policies and regulations; and (b) enhances awareness among African policymakers and the civil society about the need for environmentally friendly and socially acceptable bioenergy development policies.

There are a number of outputs and generated by the Programme since 2011. These programmes were systematically implemented to build capacity and also expose some of the best practices on the African continent. The ultimate expected accomplishment was threefold:

  1. To ensure that that bioenergy energy development is at the center of the policy development and that countries and regions put priority in modernizing the bioenergy energy sector.

  2. Capacity is built across African stakeholders, particularly policy makers, civil society, local private sector, academia and community-based organizations

  3. To deliver demonstration projects that are centered on improving bioenergy for the household and transport sectors.

Lessons learned in the implementation

While the projects achieved several important milestones, there were notable drawbacks that could influence its impacts at national and regional level. The first budget limitations at the Institutional level. There were noted financial limitations at the AUC and partners’ level in reaching out to a wider range of stakeholders including project developers; rural areas, civil society, women and youth. As identified above the greatest setback was limited expertise in project development and packaging, as well as how to finance such capacity. Project developers, both public and private identified limited capacity to design and implement bioenergy programmes, and as such, their proposed projects were very small and difficult to finance.

Secondly, and related to the above, bioenergy projects are generally difficult to be attract normal financing or investment. The challenge is therefore how to mobilize required financing for projects, as well as attracting private sector participation. Lastly, there general lack of awareness at all levels about new and modern bioenergy projects. This prevents these projects getting full attention of the public and policy makers, like other renewable energy solutions such as solar and wind projects.

Technical paper on Grand Inga hydropower project which is one of the Agenda 2063 Flagship Projects

One of the Agenda 2063 Flagship Projects is the “Grand Inga Hydropower Project” in D.R. Congo. It is under preparation following an overall scheme which should reach by stage a total capacity over 42,000 MW and designed to contribute to electricity supply to the entire continent.

Its first phase named Inga 3 will be equipped for 4,800 MW with low head dam, with an option of 7,800 MW with high head dam. Other five phases, Inga 4 up to Inga 8, are also envisaged. It is worth recalling that Inga 1 is under operation since 1972 with a capacity of 342 MW and Inga 2 since 1982 with 1424 MW.

Given the today very low electricity access rate of 15% only, the DRC government is committed to enhance hydropower generation, on the identified many big and/or medium size sites, to cover the increased national demand, expand the access up to 30% by 2025 and also export electricity to neighboring countries in order to support socio-economic development of the country.

Therefore, to meet these objectives, the Government has embarked on following policy and programmes: liberalization of the electricity sector, enhancing Public Private Partnerships (PPP), rehabilitation of existing power plants such as Inga1 and Inga2, improving and expanding transport and distribution network, undertaking new power plants construction, being big like Inga Dam or medium size projects, as well as enhancing regional cooperation in the energy sector.


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