African Single Electricity Market (AfSEM) Launched
On 3 June 2021, the African Union (AU) launched the African Single Electricity Market (AfSEM). It paves the way for one of the largest electricity markets in the world, covering the African Union’s 55 Member States and a population of more than 1.3 billion.
The launch ceremony was attended by the AU and EU Commissioners in charge of energy, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid and Mrs. Kadri Simson. Additionally, the launch was attended by Dr. Towela Nyirenda-Jere, Principal Programme Officer at AUDA-NEPAD representing Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, the Chief Executive Officer of AUDA-NEPAD, Mr. Wale Shonibare, Director for Energy Financial Solutions at the Policy and Regulation Department of the AfDB, and AU Member States and Regional Economic Communities. The keynote address was given by AUC Deputy Chairperson Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa on behalf of H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat who also conducted the official launch of the AfSEM during the event.
All work on the policy formulation, including the Policy paper, the Roadmap, and the Governance structure has been validated by the African Reginal Economic Communities, the five regional Power Pools and other Pan African energy institutions. The documents were endorsed by the AU’s Specialised Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIIET) and adopted by the AU Head of States at the 34th AU-Summit in February 2021.
Fully operational by 2040
The AfSEM will be completed through phases and governed by Pan African energy institutions. The first phase is projected to be achieved as early as 2023. Full operation is anticipated to be reached by 2040. The aim is to harmonise regulatory frameworks and integrate generation, transmission and distribution masterplans.
Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, said during the launch ceremony: “This Session marks a great achievement of an important target for Africa and its citizens. A target we strongly believe will be an answer to one of the Africa’s pressing challenges bedevilling the socioeconomic growth of our dear continent: energy.”
The AfSEM is also anticipated to lead to a diversification of energy sources, better trade and investment exchanges, a closing of the energy infrastructure gaps between regions and countries and leveraging of the African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). In line with the AU Agenda 2063 and the SDG7, the single electricity market on the continent is additionally expected to facilitate the optimisation of Africa’s renewable energy sources to achieve 100 per cent access to electricity by 2030.
Milestone in AU-EU Cooperation
The launch of the AfSEM is a major milestone in the work carried out in the scope of the Harmonisation of the African Electricity Market within the partnership between the AU and the European Union (EU).
During the launch, The European Commissioner for Energy, Mrs. Kadri Simson, said the AfSEM is a turning point for Africa, and, referring to the cooperation between the continents, concluded: “We are now laying the groundwork for the next 7 years, with the aim of supporting greener and resilient development of the energy sector. Rest assured, you can count on our cooperation in the development of the African Single Electricity Market.”
The EU’s dedicated Technical Assistance Facility for Sustainable Energy (EU TAF) has supported the AU in coordinating the harmonisation of African electricity markets since 2015. The strategic objectives of the cooperation have been to improve access to reliable and sustainable energy, to promote industrialisation, economic development and job creation.