Africa’s Decade of Sustainable Energy for All launched at AfDB Meetings in Kigali
Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, and Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, have officially launched the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All in Africa.
At present, 42 African countries have signed up to the Sustainable Energy for All initiative. At a high-level discussion held during the AfDB's Annual Meetings on Monday, May 19 in Kigali, Yumkella stressed the need for these countries to take ownership of the initiative's objectives through national action plans and performance indicators. The SE4ALL initiative's objectives are as follows: ensuring universal access to modern energy services, doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
During his speech, Donald Kaberuka urged African countries to work on energy regulations and policies in order to encourage investment in the sector, and in renewable energies in particular. "Africa has significant energy resources, including renewable energies, which, if used effectively, could bring electricity to the entire continent. However, this will require better regional integration of energy markets," he explained.
On a similar note, the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Elham Mahmoud Ibrahim, added: "There are currently several ambitious transnational electricity connection projects underway across Africa, such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). The diversification of energy resources will encourage greater private-sector investment."
For his part, Richard Konteh, State House Chief of Staff, Sierra Leone, stressed the importance of the three SE4ALL objectives, explaining that around 40% of his country's electricity was lost in transmission and distribution networks.
Silas Lwakabamba, Minister for Infrastructure, Rwanda, explained how important the SE4ALL initiative was for Rwanda. He also mentioned the government's commitment to achieving the country's electrification objectives: bringing electricity to 70% of the country, and to rural areas in particular, by 2017, compared with the current coverage of 18%.
Grace Musaka, Eastern African Regional Director, Practical Action, stressed the important role that energy plays in the economic development of women. "African women currently spend an average of more than 20 hours a week gathering water and wood for their household. Improved access to energy services will allow them to spend this time working and earning a living. This, in turn, will enable them to contribute to the development of their country." This contribution reflects the core theme of the first two years of the decade: the link between energy and maternal and child health.
In late 2012, the UN General Assembly officially announced that 2014–2024 would be the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All. The situation is particularly complex in Africa, where 57% of the population is still without access to electricity. This figure falls to 37% in urban areas, but rises to 72% in rural areas.
The AfDB has agreed to organise the launch of the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, as it has hosted the African platform of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, in partnership with the African Union, NEPAD and UNDP, since May 2013. The aim of the platform is to coordinate and facilitate implementation of the SE4ALL initiative across Africa. The AfDB is a key stakeholder in Africa, with effective climate-related funding instruments that are used to finance the renewable energies sector. For example, it administers the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), which supports the SE4ALL objectives in Africa.