A New Phase in Africa-EU Energy Collaboration: The Africa-EU Green Energy Initiative
“Our two sister continents can leapfrog to an economy where the energy we produce is renewable, affordable and accessible.” – Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President, European Green Deal
Supporting energy access in Africa is a shared priority for Africa and Europe. Access to energy underpins the development of key social infrastructures and services, such as healthcare and education. Additionally, advancing energy access on a large scale can boost the economic development and the industrialisation of Africa.
Africa is facing a paradox in the energy sector. The countries on the continent have some of the world’s richest sustainable energy resources, yet, around 600 million people still lack access to electricity.
Focus on access, investments and energy efficiency
The EU has proposed to make energy access one of the main pillars of its Green Deal cooperation with Africa and will use its diplomatic and financial tools to ensure that green alliances are part of its Africa-relations. The Communication “Towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa” also highlights that the EU, in full compliance with the Paris Agreement, aims to partner with Africa to maximise the benefits of the green transition and minimise threats to the environment. In preparation of the African Union (AU) and EU summit, planned for 2022, the EU has also stated that climate and environmental issues should be the key strands in the two continents’ relations.
Therefore, in line with these ambitions and building on the recommendations of the Africa-Europe High-Level Platform for Sustainable Energy Investments in Africa (SEI Platform), the EU is preparing a new phase of the strategic partnership with the AU. With the aim of transforming the prospects of African families and help the economy grow, the EU is, within the Global Gateway Investment Package proposing the Africa-EU Green Energy Initiative. It would support large-scale sustainable electrification programmes by addressing three priorities:
• Increasing the number of African people, businesses and industries having access to affordable, modern and sustainable energy services;
• support investments in renewable energy generation;
• promote energy efficiency.
Renewable energy as the smart business option
As renewable energy is becoming the most cost-effective option for electricity generation and can address the needs of a rapidly growing population, the EU estimates that Africa can become a major global market for renewable energy. Additionally, required technological solutions are abundant and ready to be deployed.
The public sector must play a great role in catalysing private investments and in addressing the technology gap. The EU is already supporting technology development and innovation in key strategic areas such as hydrogen, offshore wind and batteries, and has, in addition, stated its readiness to work together with its African partners on the following challenges:
• Improving business climate and unlocking the huge potential of renewable energy technologies;
• supporting reforms of the energy sector and carbon pricing policies;
• supporting financial instruments such as guarantees and blending, and leveraging private investments in sustainable activities.
Frans Timmermans at the EU Africa Business Forum: Introductory remarks at the High Level Green Talk on Accelerating the EU-Africa Partnership for Green Energy Transition in Africa | European Commission (europa.eu)