The centre for renewable energy and energy efficiency, SACREEE, for the Southern African Development Community, was launched in Windhoek, Namibia.
The centre is expected to increase the coordination of standards in a region inundated with an influx of various solar products and technologies.
This was one of the main sentiments expressed during the official launch of SACREEE, where it was also stated that the centre should act as a “clearing house” for setting standards in the SADC renewable energy sector.
Its main objective is to spearhead the promotion of renewable energy development in the region.
SACREEE to be independent
It is expected to contribute substantially to the development of thriving regional renewable energy and energy efficiency markets through knowledge sharing and technical advice in the areas of policy and regulation, technology cooperation, capacity development, as well as investment promotion.
It has been agreed that the centre should be an independent SADC institution that should be owned and supported by member states for sustainability purposes. Such a development would give the centre more authority to spearhead efforts to increase the uptake of renewable energy sources in the region.
The official launch of SACREEE is part of the First Operational Phase of the centre during which it has primarily focused on developing renewable energy programmes for the region and resource mobilisation.
Initially set to run from 2014-2017, the phase delayed completion by a year.
The Second Operational Phase, from 2018-2021, will focus on activities to ensure sustainability of the centre after the exit of international cooperating partners. Read more: SADC renewable energy entrepreneurs urged to apply for a support facility
Southern African renewables gold mine
According to the AfDB, southern Africa has the potential to become a “gold mine” for renewable energy due to the abundant solar and wind resources that are now hugely sought after by international investors in their quest for clean energy.
SADC is working closely with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) to accelerate implementation.
ADA managing director, Martin Ledolter, said SACREEE would assist SADC to meet Sustainable Development Goal 7 on universal access to sustainable energy services by 2030.
“Our partnership with UNIDO in the global network of sustainable energy centres – of which SACREEE is a member – is a significant example of how we are synergising global efforts so as to make SDG7 a reality for all,” Ledolter said.
The ADA supports seven renewable energy centres around the world. The first regional centre for renewable energy and energy efficiency opened in 2010 in West Africa.
Five others have been established in East Africa, Southern Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific region and Central America. Another centre in the Himalayas is currently in the planning stage.