EAC energy summit ends with call to address gaps in access

KIGALI, Rwanda–The Minister of State for Infrastructure responsible for Energy, Water and Sanitation in the Republic of Rwanda, Hon, Germaine Kamayirese, has urged policy makers in the region and development partners to take advantage of the Sustainable Energy Forum for East Africa to forge effective partnerships for resource mobilization to facilitate the implementation of East African Community priority infrastructure projects including ensuring equitable access to sustainable energy for all.

Hon. Kamayirese, who was the chief guest at the official opening of the first Sustainable Energy Forum for East Africa at the Kigali Serena Hotel said that the Forum was yet another manifestation of how crucial renewable energy and energy efficiency were to transforming economies and livelihoods in East Africa.

The Minister called on EAC Partner States to do more to meet the region’s fast growing energy demands and extend modern energy services to more communities while also improving people’s health and ensuring long-term sustainability.

Delivering the keynote address, Ms. Rachel Kyte, Special Representative for the UN Secretary General and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, noted that the indicators for sustainable energy over 111 countries worldwide showed that the average score for East Africa was 44 out of 100.

“This suggests there is still significant opportunity in the region, within the EAC Partner States, to strengthen the policy and regulatory framework and close the gaps in access; clean fuels for cooking; technologies for cooking, but also to step up the uptake of renewable energy into the mix,” said Ms. Kyte.

Ms. Kyte said that for the region to effectively harness sustainable energy, it will need to address three issues: to put energy efficiency at the forefront of sustainable energy discussions; accelerate national electrification planning, and the integration and implementation of the plans; and lastly, government, financial institutions and other financiers to explore ways to increase the flow of funding into the project to close the access gap.

On his part, Mr. Tareq Emtairah, the Director of the Department of Energy at the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), urged EAC Partner States to address the existing challenges in energy access and creating new opportunities for clean and efficient energy services are central to the rapid and vibrant industrial growth and economic development in the region.

“UNIDO sees the importance of linking the clean energy access agenda to industrial and economic development,” said Mr. Emtairah.

Speaking during the same occasion, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, said that the EAC’s main focus in the energy sector was ensuring availability of sufficient, reliable, cost effective and environmentally friendly energy sources in the region to facilitate the broader EAC objectives of attracting investments and promoting competitiveness in trade.

“As expressed in the East African Industrialization Strategy (2012-2032), the EAC region has, as one of its targets, the diversification of the manufacturing base and raise local value-added content of resource-based exports to at least 40% by 2032. To achieve our industrialization targets, we need to accelerate access to sustainable energy and promote energy for productive uses,” said Hon. Bazivamo.