SADC drafts sustainable energy plan
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states have refined and validated a regional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Strategy and Action Plan (REEESAP) for the period 2016 to 2030, at a two-day workshop hosted earlier this month in Johannesburg.
The delegates agreed that all SADC member states have to improve the reliability of current generating capacity while at the same time develop technologies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel. Universal access to cheap, reliable energy was described as the most important development stimilus. It was also noted that only 42% of the SADC population has access to a modern energy utility, most of these in urban areas. In rural areas, the figure is as low as 10%.
The workshop was chaired by Mr Henry D. Shongwe, from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy of Swaziland, who further commented on the industrialisation strategy in the region, saying that it cannot be accomplished without developing sustainable energy infrastructure as an enabler. Therefore, this strategy and action plan can assist SADC Member States in fulfilling this dream.
In his introductory remarks, Mr Moses Ntlamelle, representing the SADC Secretariat on behalf of the SADC’s Director of Infrastructure and Services, highlighted the importance given to sustainable energy at regional level, as manifested by the outcome of the SADC Joint Ministerial Workshop on Energy and Water held last June in Gaborone and the theme of the 36th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government, titled “Resource Mobilisation for Investment in Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive SADC Industrialisation for the Prosperity of the Region”.
Mr Terry Cook, from the EU Technical Assistance Facility for “Sustainable Energy for All” (SE4ALL) which is supporting the REEESAP development process, encouraged Member States and other stakeholders to tap into this Facility for technical assistance.
SADC’s growing population, rapid urbanisation and economic growth have sent energy demand soaring and will deepen the energy deficit which started in 2007 unless new and renewable energy systems are rapidly introduced into the energy mix. Renewables already account for 23.5% of electricity generation in the SADC region and could rise to 60% under favourable policy scenarios, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
The SADC Secretariat has since April 2016 conducted a broad consultative process through two workshops that included key energy stakeholders, both public and private. This participatory approach is seen as crucial to provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive overview of renewable energy and energy efficiency. It also identifies opportunities and challenges in the region, and prioritize regional strategic interventions to unlock the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency potential, spur investment and boost market uptake of these technologies.
The REEESAP will be presented to the SADC energy ministers at their next meeting, scheduled for June 2017, for consideration and approval.