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Lusaka, Tuesday, May 30, 2017: COMESA and the European Union have signed a Delegation Agreement of seven million euro to enhance sustainable regional energy market conducive to investment and promoting sustainable development.

The Ambassador of the European Union to Zambia and Representative to COMESA, H.E. Ambassador Alessandro Mariani, and COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya signed on behalf of their respective organizations.

The funds which have been provided through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) will be used to address market governance and regulatory related challenges that are impacting on the implementation of energy development projects in the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.

The project titled ‘Enhancement of a Sustainable Regional Energy Market in the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Region’ will support the development of harmonized regulatory frameworks in the regional energy market as well as the renewable energy subsector; efficient energy management and integration of gender perspectives in energy policy and regulation.

This is in addition to enabling regional regulatory associations and power pools to oversee and stimulate increased regional power trade more effectively. These include the Regional Association of Energy Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA), the Regional Electricity Regulators Association of Southern Africa (RERA) in SADC and the Energy Regulators Association of East Africa (EREA).  The regional power pools comprise the Eastern Power Pool (EAPP) and the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).

The RAERESA (in COMESA) has been identified to coordinate the implementation of the programme.

Expressing appreciation for the European Union support, the Secretary General said the energy poverty in the region should be seen as an investment opportunity for power generation on a regional basis and an opportunity to build regional power inter-connectors in order to facilitate trade in power from surplus to deficit regions.

“The percentage of the COMESA population with access to electricity is on average around 45 %, but the projections indicate that it will be around 80% by 2040, provided multi-billion dollar investments are made in the next ten years” he said.

Mr. Ngwenya added that high priority should be accorded to the development of regional energy infrastructure which would assist to achieve economies of scale.

In his statement, Ambassador Mariani said: "The region is endowed with great potential energy sources, especially from renewable energy sources, capable of powering up the entire continent but this potential remains largely underutilized. It is important to make the existing opportunities a reality for the citizens and businesses of the region. The governance of the energy sector as well as facilitating private sector investments will be crucial to obtain the expected results.”

This project will run for four years from the date of the signing.