Boosting Energy Trade Can Unlock Development in Africa
On the 26th of November 2021, key energy actors in Africa came together to discuss the acceleration of the energy transition within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) during the 7th side session for UNIDO’s 9th Ministerial Conference of the Least Developed Countries. The event highlighted energy as an important enabler for the continent to drive development by boosting intra-African trade.
In a panel discussion, moderated by Ashraf Kraidy, Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE), the panelists agreed that managing the energy transition smartly will create win-win scenarios, enabling growth, job creation and entrepreneurship in the sector. Petina Gappah, Legal Advisor, AfCFTA, however, noted that partners must keep Africa’s industrialisation in mind in order to make trade in the energy sector competitive.
The panellists agreed with Johan van den Berg, Head of Secretariat, Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), that renewable energy and trade are complementary to each other in the African context. However, energy systems must be spread over a large geographic area to better account for intermittencies in the system, this way the energy surplus in one area can complement the intermittencies of another. Van den Berg pointed out that such a system would be impossible to sustain in one country alone, alluding to multilateralism and trade opportunities that have the potential to bring together members from the public and private sectors. Africa must therefore plan at a large scale and consider the potential for energy trade.