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IRENA and NEPAD Unite to Drive Energy Connectivity Advancements in Africa

IRENA and NEPAD Unite to Drive Energy Connectivity Advancements in Africa

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) have partnered to provide support to African nations in their pursuit of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7.

This commitment focuses on ensuring equitable access to affordable, dependable, sustainable, and contemporary energy sources for all. 

Francesco La Camera, the Director-General of IRENA, and Nardos Bekele-Thomas, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD signed the agreement.

“Acknowledging that 80% of the global population without access to electricity resides in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is evident that the existing energy infrastructure cannot adequately meet the continent’s needs. 

“The creation of a more equitable energy system – one that leverages a diverse mix of Africa’s abundant renewable resources – is dependent upon a more interconnected, flexible and reliable power grid in the region. 

“This partnership serves as a pivotal step toward achieving that objective.” stated Mr. La Camera.

Accelerating Africa’s Energy Revolution

Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, emphasised the significance of the findings from the Continental Power Systems Masterplan (CMP), which has been designed to serve as a strategic blueprint for interconnecting Africa’s five power pools. 

Again, she stressed the urgent need for proactive measures within Africa’s electricity sector, pointing out that the current status quo, characterised as business as usual, is far from reaching the goal of universal electricity access by 2040.

“The current business as usual trajectory falls significantly short of achieving universal electricity access by 2040, necessitating a substantial increase in investments to elevate the continent’s installed capacity from 266GW to approximately 1,218GW. 

“To realise this ambitious target, an estimated USD 1.29 trillion in cumulative investments will be essential, potentially culminating in the establishment of a robust continental electricity market valued at USD 136 billion by 2040. It is imperative to take urgent and strategic actions to accomplish these transformative goals,” she said.

By continually investing in cross-border transmission infrastructure and fostering greater electricity trade, African nations can expedite their energy expansion and transition.

In addition, this approach will enable them to tap into a diverse array of competitive, clean energy sources and leverage the continent’s five power pools to establish Africa’s Single Electricity Market.

Empowering Africa’s Energy Future

Since 2021, IRENA, in collaboration with various organisations, has been actively assisting AUDA-NEPAD and African stakeholders in the creation of the CMP. 

Furthermore, this support has encompassed modelling endeavours and a series of capacity-building initiatives focused on energy planning within the region. 

Moreover, the overarching objective of the CMP is to establish a comprehensive, long-term planning framework for power generation and transmission spanning the entire continent, inclusive of all five African power pools. 

The plan outlines how to optimally harness the abundant renewable energy resources available across Africa, reinforcing national power strategies that recognize cross-border interconnections as a crucial element.

What’s more, in the next phase of the CMP, there will be a dedicated emphasis on strengthening the planning procedures and expediting the development of a financially viable portfolio of priority projects, spanning regional and national levels. 

This presents a unique opportunity for African nations to harmonise their energy planning approaches with a pan-African vision and expedite the realisation of Agenda 2063.

Under this fresh collaboration, IRENA and AUDA-NEPAD will collaborate to bolster the capacities of African nations and regional entities through knowledge-driven capacity-building services. 

They will also assist in the implementation of renewable energy projects within the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA PAP II). 

Furthermore, they will facilitate project developers’ access to IRENA’s Climate Investment Platform and Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) platform.