Brussels, 16 October 2014 – The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) welcomes the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) choice for Sub-Saharan Africa as the topic for its World Energy Outlook Special Report. This region has the highest needs for access to energy and energy services in the world.

At the Italy-Africa Initiative Ministerial Conference “Italy-Africa, working together for a sustainable energy future” hosted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome on 13-14 October 2014, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol explained that nearly 1 billion people in the region will gain access to electricity by 2040, but that this would still leave 530 million people primarily in rural communities without power. To enable energy to act as an engine of inclusive economic and social growth, the IEA recommends an upgraded power sector, deeper regional cooperation and better management of resources and revenues.

In the understanding that market information and partnering with key players is strategic to engage effectively in rural Sub-Sahara, ARE together with the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) and the African Union Commission (AUC) circulated a new edition of ARE’s flagship publication: Best Practices for Clean Energy Access in Africa. This publication, which comprises 20 case studies and details how to effectively electrify rural areas based on the latest innovations and existing cost-efficient technologies, was presented at the “Dialogue Forum with the Private Sector in the Off-grid Renewable Energy Market” Workshop. About 200 high-level participants attended the workshop from the public and private sector, which took place on the first day of the Ministerial Conference in Rome.

H.E. Ms. Elham Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, summarised that there are now concrete practical examples of rural electrification projects in Africa from which we can learn from. It would be in their expectation that this publication will build a stepping stone for shaping up policy and regulatory frameworks, and thus attract the highly needed investment into Africa’s energy markets

Given that business models only work in a business-enabling environment, ARE also collaborated with the EUEI PDF under the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) and REN21 to develop a Mini-grid Policy Toolkit to help policy makers navigate the mini-grid policy design process. The toolkit is specifically focused on Africa.

Rana Adib of REN21 presented the Mini-grid Policy Toolkit at the abovementioned workshop and explained that mini-grid based electrification powered with renewables will accelerate considerably needed energy access. The use of renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind, water or biomass provides the advantage of avoiding fuel consumption and security issues associated with fuel price fluctuations.

“As a partner of the SE4All initiative, it is important to draw up solutions to develop sustainable business models. The market becomes relevant when we integrate locals and their competences into the value chain. Together with the help of local partners, we need more research and development to bring in the latest information about rural electrification markets. We would very much welcome more performance data about rural developments as in-depth knowledge of local conditions is key for private sector investments.” Marcus Wiemann, Secretary General of the Alliance for Rural Electrification

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