Thursday, January 28, 2010

Partnering to Increase Access to Sustainable Energy in Africa

A core design team from the AfDB led by Hela Cheikhrouhou (Division Manager, Infrastructure Finance) traveled to snowy Denmark to participate in a bilateral workshop with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). This workshop marks one more milestone on the path to implementing the Sustainable Energy Initiative, as put forth by the 2009 report of the Africa Commission. The Sustainable Energy Initiative will take the form of a sizable trust fund established with funding from Denmark under the administration of AfDB's Department of Private Sector Operations. The meeting in Copenhagen follows the scoping workshop in Tunis that was held on 23 November, 2009. A team of external consultants presented their conclusions and recommendations as a draft program document, which was discussed and critiqued by both the AfDB and the MFA representatives.

According to the program document discussed, the Sustainable Energy Initiative will be carried out on three levels. First, a small scale-focused program will seek to partner with national and regional business developers and local banks to encourage entrepreneurship in sustainable energy-related fields. The second program will seek to leverage investment in medium sized sustainable and process energy production by providing grant-based equity support. The third program will be an open portion of funding that the AfDB can use at its discretion to bring sustainable energy production projects to a state of bankability, either through technical assistance, studies or policy support and advocacy.

The objective of the SEI initiative is to leverage investment of USD 300 million in sustainable and renewable energy throughout Africa. This, in turn, will increase entrepreneurship potential and employment, which is identified by the Africa Commission as the primary end to achieve sustainable development in Africa.