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IRENA and AUDA-NEPAD Join Forces to Advance Regional Interconnections in Africa

Regional integration is key for Africa to tap into its abundant renewable energy resources and fulfil development goals

Nairobi, Kenya, 4 September 2023 – The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) signed an agreement today aimed at supporting African countries in their efforts to achieve the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

The agreement was signed today by IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera and AUDA-NEPAD CEO Nardos Bekele-Thomas on the margins of Africa Climate Week in Nairobi.

“Acknowledging that 80% of the global population without access to electricity resides in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is evident that the existing energy infrastructure cannot adequately meet the continent’s needs,” stated Mr. La Camera. “The creation of a more equitable energy system – one that leverages a diverse mix of Africa’s abundant renewable resources – is dependent upon a more interconnected, flexible and reliable power grid in the region. This partnership serves as a pivotal step toward achieving that objective.”

AUDA-NEPAD CEO Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas underscored the findings of the Continental Power Systems Masterplan (CMP), designed to provide a strategic roadmap for connecting Africa’s five power pools, emphasising the critical need for immediate and proactive measures in Africa’s electricity sector.

She highlighted that, “the current business as usual trajectory falls significantly short of achieving universal electricity access by 2040, necessitating a substantial increase in investments to elevate the continent’s installed capacity from 266GW to approximately 1,218GW. To realise this ambitious target, an estimated USD 1.29 trillion in cumulative investments will be essential, potentially culminating in the establishment of a robust continental electricity market valued at USD 136 billion by 2040. It is imperative to take urgent and strategic actions to accomplish these transformative goals.”

The continued investments in cross-border transmission infrastructure and a deepening of electricity trade will allow African countries to accelerate their energy expansion and transition by sourcing electricity from a wide range of competitive, clean energy resources, by anchoring on the continent’s five power pools to create Africa’s Single Electricity Market.

Since 2021, IRENA, in partnership with other organisations, has supported AUDA-NEPAD and African stakeholders in developing the CMP through modelling activities and a series of capacity-building activities related to energy planning in the region. The CMP aims to establish a long-term, continent-wide planning process for power generation and transmission that involves all five African power pools. It maps out how to best to utilise the vast renewable energy resources across the continent, supporting national power strategies that consider cross-border interconnections as a vital component.

The next phase of CMP will include a special focus on strengthening the planning processes and accelerating the preparation of a bankable pipeline of priority projects at both the regional and country levels. This brings an opportunity for African countries to align their energy planning processes to a pan-Africa vision and accelerate the realisation of Agenda 2063.

Through this new partnership, IRENA and AUDA-NEPAD will work to enhance the capabilities of African countries and regional organisations through knowledge-based capacity building services, support implementation of the renewable energy projects in the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA PAP II) and facilitate access for project developers to IRENA’s Climate Investment Platform and Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) platform.

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