The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on accelerating the deployment renewable energy solutions in Southern African countries.
Under the agreement, the two organisations will also cooperate on decentralised technologies, policy development, capacity building programmes and regional events aimed at attracting investments to the region.
IRENA noted that southern Africa has seen remarkable improvement in electricity access over the past decade. This is largely due to a strong commitment from SADC member states to take advantage of the region’s vast renewable energy potential to improve energy security and meet rising energy demand.
As a result, the total share of renewables in power generation rose from 23% in 2015 to almost 39% in 2018. However, despite significant progress, electricity access remains a challenge.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has re-emphasised the importance of a reliable, affordable, clean energy,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera.
“It has served as a stark reminder that the new energy age must be inclusive, just and low-carbon if we are to achieve sustainable development in southern Africa and around the world. Africa can seize the moment for meaningful change, and dramatically improve socioeconomic outcomes by moving decisively towards the energy transformation. This agreement will bolster regional progress,” concluded La Camera.
By building capacity in the SADC region, IRENA and SACREEE aim to accelerate renewable energy deployment and achieve universal energy access by creating environments more conducive to renewable energy investments.
The two organisations will conduct joint activities under the Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC) in the areas of renewable energy resource assessment, long-term planning, as well as investments, policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks. Implementation of activities under ACEC provides a comprehensive opportunity to avoid greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
“SACREEE has implemented several joint programmatic activities with IRENA through the African Clean Energy Corridor initiative and the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility since 2017,” said SACREEE Executive Director, Kudakwashe Ndhlukula. “The renewal of this Memorandum of Understanding will expand and strengthen our collaboration in areas of mutual interest and given mandates. We therefore appreciate the continued partnership and support from IRENA towards the fulfilment of our mandate towards an energy secure and resilient society through clean, affordable and sustainable energy solutions,” concluded Ndhlukula.
IRENA and SACREEE will also work together to accelerate renewable energy investments through the implementation of the Southern African Investment Forum that will facilitate access to sustainable finance in the region. The forum is part of IRENA’s contribution to the Climate Investment Platform (CIP), designed to advance sustainable energy projects to investment maturity and facilitate their access to finance. Key forum activities include matchmaking between projects, project developers, and potential financiers and investors.
IRENA and SACREEE also renewed their commitment to support entrepreneurship in the region. The two organisations previously partnered on establishing the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility. The objective of the Facility was to enhance and strengthen the capacity of small to medium entrepreneurs in assessing the business potentials of sustainable energy, develop viable business plans and loan requests, and managing their businesses successfully.