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The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (ECA-SA) had earlier this month organised an Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting (AEGM) on “The Energy Crisis in Southern Africa: Perspectives for the Future”.

The objective of the AEGM was to review the draft issues paper on “The Energy Crisis in Southern Africa: Perspectives for the Future” and to discuss the role of Member States, regional organization such as COMESA and SADC , the private sector and civil society in enhancing energy security in Southern Africa.

The AEGM was held at the Sunbird Capital Hotel, in Lilongwe, Malawi from 14 to 15 March 2016. The Director of ECA-SA, Mr. Said Adejumobi delivered the welcoming remarks and the Secretary to Treasury, Government of the Republic of Malawi, Dr. Ronald Mangani, officially opened the meeting.

The meeting was attended by over 40 experts in energy and energy development, the private sector, international organizations, academia, civil society and the media. The experts were drawn from the following member States: Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In addition, experts from the following organisations – ActionAid, COMESA, the Confucius Institute of the University of Johannesburg, Copperbelt Energy Corporation, Electricity Supply Commission of South Africa (ESKOM), Energy Management Services, GFA Consulting Group GmbH, Lunsemfwa/Lufubu Power, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Policy Monitoring and Research Centre, Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PAMESA), the Rural Electrification Agency of Zimbabwe, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), Southern Africa Trust and Straconsult the participated in the meeting.

The experts made several recommendations. Regarding policy and regulatory issues, Member States were encouraged to adopt harmonised and competitive policy, legal and regulatory frameworks attractive to private investors in the power sector including new and renewable energy technologies; Continue reforming the utilities to increase efficiency, which in some cases may involve unbundling, to make the utilities attractive to investors as well as leveling the playing field for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs);Clarify and define government, private sector and regulator role and responsibilities for long term plans, implementation, financing and supervision and introduce cost-reflective tariffs and develop mechanisms to cushion the disadvantaged from the high tariffs among other recommendations.

The COMESA and SADC Secretariats should empower the Regional Electricity Regulators Association (RERA) to become an authority enabling it to effectively address the cross-border regulatory challenges; make use of the SAPP Project Preparation Facility to prepare and package renewable energy projects for incorporation into the (Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) priority projects list for possible financing; develop Regional Integrated Resource Plans for the regional power market; leverage regional energy cooperation to generate an optimal energy mix, collaborate more on energy issues and share experiences on policies and the development of energy projects and establish frameworks and mechanisms for the collection and transmission of data on energy and create observatories/websites with validated data to provide up to date information.