Representatives of five African Regional Economic Communities (RECs), energy regulators, power pools and two regional centers for renewable energy from Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (EA-SA-IO) met in Lusaka, August 16-17 to discuss the implementation of a new regional energy project.
The meeting was the first of the Steering Committee of the Project on Enhancement of a Sustainable Regional Energy Market (ESREM) in Eastern Africa Southern Africa and Indian Ocean which was launched in June this year. The project is supported by the European Union, with a budget of seven million Euros under the 11th European Development Fund.
ESREM is a four-year programme covering 27 countries. It is expected to improve energy security, accessibility and affordability to power for the people of Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. Various studies show that the main challenges regarding energy needs of this region include inadequate level and coverage of physical energy infrastructure due to insufficient investment in the energy sector.
Other challenges are inefficiency and unreliability of existing energy infrastructure services, increased economic and population growth, high cost of operating energy infrastructure facilities and the inability to prepare bankable projects.
Speaking during the meeting, Assistant Secretary General for Programmes in COMESA Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget called for investment in regional energy infrastructure to address the current energy poverty.
“…the region is on the way to achieving the Cape to Cairo electricity corridor by implementing the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya interconnector project. This project will pave the way for a competitive regional power market,” Ambassador Cheluget added.
COMESA Secretariat through the Regional Association of Energy Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA) will facilitate the implementation of the ESREM project on behalf of the EA-SA-IO.
European Union Zambia Office Head of Infrastructure Mr. Adam Grodzicki emphasized the need for the project to promote energy security and improve accessibility to the people. He said the region also needs to have harmonized regulations as a way of attracting investment to the sector.
Delegates commended the EU for helping develop Africa’s energy infrastructure through the different European Union Development Funds and other mechanisms.