Kigali is next week set to host the Sustainable Energy Forum for East Africa 2018, a three-day international event meant to foster economic transformation of the six East African Community partner states through equitable access to sustainable energy for all.
The forum, due to start on Monday, is jointly organised by the EAC Secretariat, the Ministry of Infrastructure of Rwanda, the East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EACREEE), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), and Sustainable Energy For All (SEforALL).
Sustainable Energy for All is a nonprofit working with leaders in government, the private sector and civil society to drive further, faster action toward achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7, which calls for universal access to sustainable energy by 2030, among other things.
According to the Arusha-based EAC Secretariat, it is hoped that the forum will help forge effective partnerships for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 targets in the partner states by the year 2030.
Talking to Saturday Times, Jean Baptiste Havugimana, the EAC Director for Productive Sectors, noted that energy is key to industry.
“However, the cost of energy is still very high in the EAC. It is high because we’ve been relying on the conventional sources, hydro power, and it is just of recent that we have considered using other modern sources of energy to fill the gap,” he said.
Regional average cost of energy at the grid is $15 cents, he said, while “if you compare with Ethiopia, it is at $3cents, and this shows how much the cost here is very high.”
In the USA, energy cost is $8 cents, in China it is $5 cents while the lowest in the region, Kenya, it is $10 cents.
In Rwanda, it is $20 cents and the Government is working to reduce energy cost to the regional average of $15 cents, officials say.
“The conventional energy has become unreliable due to so many factors, including climate change; extreme weather events. For example, when there are floods, energy infrastructure are flooded and damaged. They require huge repair costs, a lot of money,” said Havugimana.
Energy is essential in the running of daily domestic activities and operation of industry. Availability of sufficient, reliable and affordable energy is crucial for the functioning of the economies of the EAC partner states.
As a service and productive sector, energy plays a catalytic role in stimulating investments and higher levels of productivity.
Article 101 of the EAC Treaty calls for partner states to explore measures to supply affordable energy to the people of the region while taking into account protection of the environment.
The forum in Kigali will provide a platform for stakeholders to discuss strategies on the harmonisation of renewable energy and efficient energy policies, upscaling financing in renewable energy and efficient energy projects and technologies, as well as exchange knowledge, experiences about and inform ongoing and planned regional programmes.
It will bring together policymakers, experts, civil society and private sector representatives and development partners to share best practices, identify opportunities and challenges, and find solutions to the energy challenges in the Community.
Expected participants include EAC Secretary General Amb. Libérat Mfumukeko; Sustainable Energy for All CEO, Rachel Kyte; UNIDO Director of Energy, Tareq Emtairah; Austrian Development Agency Managing Director, Martin Ledolter; International Solar Alliance (ISA) Director General, Upendra Tripathi; and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Deputy Director General, Sakari Oksanen, among others.
The 2018 edition of the Sustainable Energy Forum will focus on seven thematic areas: access to energy; roadmap of a sustainable energy future for east Africa; financing sustainable energy projects in the EAC; energy and gender in the region; sustainable city development in the region; and geothermal energy.