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African economic blocs in Sh819m energy pool deal

Renewable energy resources
Renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and bioenergy are found all over Africa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Five African economic blocs plan to jointly set up a power pool that will use regional infrastructure to create a common energy market.

The Enhancement of a Sustainable Energy Market in the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (EA-SA-IO) region project is being funded by the EU in the tune of seven million Euros (Sh819 million).

The overall objective of the project is to create a regional energy market that is conducive to investment and promotes sustainable development.

“The region has enormous unexploited natural resources required for power sector development,” said Kipyego Cheluget, Assistant Secretary General in charge of programmes at Comesa.

“Renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and bioenergy, which are yet to be harnessed, are found all over Africa” Dr Cheluget said.

He said that an inadequate regulatory environment and governance challenges have undermined efforts to attract investment.

“Regulatory challenges continue to hinder implementation of energy projects, especially with respect to renewable energy and private sector participation,” he said during a meeting in Nairobi that brought together communications and energy experts from member states.

The programme, which is being implemented by Comesa, follows the signing of an agreement with EU officials in May 2017.

It is being implemented in member States of the Comesa, the EAC, Igad, SADC and the Indian Ocean Commission.

Its objective is to harmonise regulatory frameworks and enable energy regulators and power pools to foster a vibrant regional energy market.

Dr Cheluget said that Africa has an average electrification rate of 24 per cent while the rest of the developing world is close to 40 per cent.

“Even in areas covered by the electricity grid, power is often unreliable. A confounding variable of this trend is that less than one per cent of the electricity generated in Africa originates from renewable energy resources,” he said.

Julius Mwathani, Secretary for Electrical Power Development in the Ministry of Energy, said an increase in renewable energy use is hampered by lack of access to finance, knowledge and technology.

Mr Mwathani said that collaborative efforts are critical among stakeholders if they arde to to fully harness their countries’ renewable energy potential.

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