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Africa’s renewable energy potential is mostly untapped due to unavailability of sufficient information vital for further exploitation by both the public and private investments. To address this challenge, a draft African Energy Resources Atlas has now been developed to provide statistical data and illustrations of renewable energy resources in the continent.

The initiative is led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Regional Office for Africa (UNEP-ROA) and the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa/African Development Bank (ICA/AfDB). It brings together energy experts in Africa from regional organizations, governments, academic and research institutions.

The aim of Africa Energy Resources Atlas is, to provide a comprehensive, reliable and scientifically credible assessment of the state of energy resources development on the continent, including the enabling framework for the realization of goal 7 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The draft Atlas was subjected to a technical peer review meeting of energy experts in Africa drawn from regional organizations, governments, academic and research institutions. COMESA Energy Expert Dr Mohamedain Elnasr represented COMESA in the meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa last month.

The meeting focused on validating information in the draft, the adequacy of coverage in terms of case studies and hot-spots and the accuracy of the story lines.

The meeting agreed on the structure and the content of the expected Atlas and has since assisted in strengthening the availability of data on energy and energy related key issues. This is in addition to optimizing the access to information in the African energy sector through short and concise description of key issues and opportunities at both nation and regional levels.

The Atlas will target a potential spectrum of end-users which include policy-makers (national, regional and continental) and state owned enterprises, private investors and developers and academics and interested public.

To this effect it was agreed that the Atlas should combine illustrative maps, charts and comparative images, which could provide important information on renewable energy resources across the continent.

The meeting underscored the need to unlock the Africa’s renewable energy potential in order to: enhance energy security, increase access, reduce poverty and create wealth. The ultimate objective is to increase the rates of inclusive socioeconomic development.

COMESA will benefit from this exercise as it is in line with an earlier decision made by the Regional Association of Energy Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA) to adopt the renewable energy cooperation framework for the Region.

One of the areas of focus of RAERESA cooperation framework was a technical coordination of renewable energy technologies in COMESA countries, which is expected to end up with a number of results, one of which is development of renewable energy atlases.