Multilateralism will be key for the AfCFTA to enable the Green Energy Transition
Africa aims to use regional trade integration to strengthen the energy sector and existing power pools, and improve use of the region’s abundant renewable energy resources to meet the increasing energy demand on the continent. While power pooling has had some success in the region, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) offers the possibility to improve investment opportunities, coordinate policy approaches and implementation more efficiently, and ensure the interests of different energy stakeholders are aligned. As a result, the AfCFTA can pave the way towards a green energy transition.
These were some of the topics of discussion during a webinar on 24 August, 2022, hosted by the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town. The webinar, “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Opportunities for Renewable Energy and Industrial Transformation – Series 2” is part of the school’s series on “The AfCFTA and Transformative Industrialisation Webinar Series.”
During the webinar, AEEP Head of Secretariat, Johan van den Berg, addressed the role of international cooperation in the green energy transition. He noted that in the last three years, there has been massive progress in pan-African initiatives, namely the Africa Single Electricity Market (AfSEM), and the Continental Power System Masterplan (CMP), Van den Berg underlined that energy is an enabler in all aspects of the economy . He hopes that AfCFTA will enable Africa to have full access to energy, industrialisation, free trade, and climate stability. Multilateralism will be critical if the continent is to move towards realising the benefits of regional economic and market integration. Van den Berg added that at a political level, all harmonious futures are ultimately built on renewable energy, most likely anchored by wind and solar PV. These flourish over large geographies and in large power pools. The same multilateralism underpinning the AcFTA will underpin the energy systems of tomorrow, with regional approaches to economic and energy master-planning enabling that future. He urged that these approaches be promoted with political leaders and policy makers.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aims to facilitate industrialisation and create a single market for goods and services in Africa. The movement towards broadening regional integration started in January 2021 as a trade agreement, with a large scope that includes critical areas of Africa’s economy, such as digital trade and investment protection. By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the objective of the AfCFTA is to significantly boost intra-Africa trade across all sectors of Africa’s economy.