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Africa needs an investment of USD 40 billion annually to completely satisfy the power needs of its inhabitants by 2040 according to Gary Quince special representative of the European Union (EU) to the Africa Union Commission (AUC).
He further said out of the USD 40 billion annually the majority of the investment will be used for expanded generating capacity, but a significant amount will be left for regional transmission and integration in the power sector. Energy poverty was one of the biggest challenges for sustainable development in the continent according to Quince.
“While the continent’s energy needs are growing substantially, the available resources are more than sufficient to meet the continent’s demand. Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change,” Qunice stated.
During the Second High Level Ministerial Meeting of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr Elham Ibrahim, focused on the progress and importance of the initiatives launched by the African Union Commission and its partners, since the inception of the AEEP. She spoke specifically on the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility, which encourages public and private sector geothermal development projects by providing cost share grants for surface studies and drilling of reservoir confirmation wells. “Under the facility, grants have been awarded to 5 projects in Kenya and Ethiopia, amounting to USD 22 million dollars, and other agreements will be signed in March this year,” she said.
Alemayehu Tegenu Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy highlighted the importance of appropriate and robust national policies and strategies in the success of Africa’s energy ambitions. He pointed to several projects which have been initiated in Ethiopia as a result of the nation’s focus on integrating energy into the core of its national and development agenda. These include: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the Gibe Three hydropower projects which have a combined capacity of almost 8,000 megawatts of electricity when completed; and Ethiopia’s pioneering wind farms which he said, are the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The AEEP is one of the partnerships forged as a result of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, which encompasses eight areas of co-operation. These are: Peace and Security; Democratic Governance and Human Rights; Trade, regional integration and infrastructure; the Millennium Development Goals; Energy; Climate Change; Migration, mobility and employment; and Science, Information Society and Space.
According to the AUC’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the demand for energy will increase six times over between 2010 and 2040. This means a targeted installed power generation capacity of 700 GW.
The First High Level Ministerial Meeting took place in Vienna on September 2010. The two-day Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) is an established framework for energy co-operation between the two continents, offering a platform for dialogue and co-ordination of joint activities.
Africa currently generates 125 GW of electricity per annum but only 39 percent of the African population has access to electricity.  However several countries in Africa are achieving impressive results in the energy sector. These include Ghana, which has achieved over 80 percent energy access for its citizens, and expects to exceed 90 percent access by 2015. Similarly, as of 2010, South Africa, Gabon, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt all have energy accessibility of over 80 percent.