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Development Account Projects

Strengthening the capacity of African countries to promote the use of renewable energy to achieve sustainable development and poverty reduction

Background:

The promotion of clean renewable energies (including clean cooking fuels and stoves, advanced biomass cooking stoves and biogas systems, microhydro projects and wind and solar initiatives) is a potent pro-poor development strategy for the sub-Saharan subregion, with its huge rural population and high vulnerability to such climate change-induced calamities as droughts. The severe energy poverty in rural areas deprives communities of economic and social opportunities, as they do not have access to or cannot afford adequate energy services. Women are disproportionately impacted by the lack of energy, as they undertake the majority of household chores. In urban areas in the subregion some communities lack access to electricity and experience frequent power cuts which are the result of the subregional electricity deficit. Unfortunately, many national and regional initiatives and programmes aimed at reducing poverty have not adequately taken into account the pivotal role of energy in human activities.
As one of the most vulnerable regions, it is imperative for Africa to support global climate change mitigation efforts. Sub-Saharan African countries need to make greater use of their largely untapped renewable energy potential, especially hydropower, geothermal energy, solar and wind power, and more efficient use of biomass. The subregion must develop effective national policies on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and take advantage of opportunities for technological leapfrogging using, among others, the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. There is a growing consensus that enhancing energy efficiency and promoting access to clean and renewable energies are effective methods for mitigating climate change. Cost-effective energy efficiency improvements and clean energy technologies are often self-financing in favourable economic and regulatory conditions, and sub-Saharan Africa can learn from the experience of countries which have successfully promoted and implemented this approach. Sub-Saharan African countries currently lack the policy and institutional capacity to promote clean energy and energy efficiency, including a conducive environment for the promotion of investment in the sector.
The project will build national and subregional capacity to promote the adoption of renewable and clean energy technologies and energy efficiency so as to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The capacity of Governments to develop financial, institutional and technological frameworks in order to scale up access to modern clean energy at both the national and subregional levels needs to be improved in order to achieve the goal of eradicating poverty by 2015.
The project will be implemented by ECA through its subregional offices within the framework of the multi-year programme between each subregional office and the respective regional economic communities, with the support of the relevant ECA headquarters divisions. The ECA subregional offices will collaborate with specialized energy institutions and power pools in their respective regional economic communities. The ECA subregional office for West Africa will lead the implementation of the project.

Objective:

To build the capacity of sub‑Saharan African countries to reduce energy poverty by facilitating access to renewable and clean energy

Expected accomplishments:

  • Establishment of harmonized financial, institutional and policy frameworks for the promotion of renewable energies in Africa
  • Enhanced capacity of African countries to formulate and implement policies and programmes on renewable energy
  • Improved capacity of African countries to identify and develop renewable energy projects to achieve sustainable development and poverty reduction (Millennium Development Goals)

Implementation status:

In progress.