South Africa
IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol (left) and South African energy minister Jeff Radebe. Image credit: IEA

On Tuesday, South African energy minister Jeff Radebe and the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Dr Fatih Birol, jointly announced South Africa’s decision to officially join the IEA as an association country.

South Africa is the first sub-Saharan African country to institutionalise its engagement with the IEA, a development that marks an important milestone for energy governance in Africa and globally.

The IEA highlighted that it will be prioritising work in Africa in the years ahead, and South Africa will be a critical partner for launching and delivering an ambitious array of energy access, security and clean energy transitions initiatives across the continent.

“I approved of South Africa joining the IEA as an association country because this decision places us at the centre of the global energy forum with positive economic benefits for our country as we learn from IEA family members,” said Radebe.

While commending the energy minister for spearheading South Africa’s energy sector reform and making outstanding progress in improving the country’s electrification rate, Dr Birol stated that “today, Mr Minister, you again demonstrate South Africa’s leadership both in Africa and beyond. I am fully confident that this new chapter in our relationship will be mutually beneficial.”

Power system transition

Among the agreements signed by the two leaders was a three-year joint programme of work identifying opportunities for collaboration on energy statistics, energy efficiency, electrification and power system transition, renewables integration, energy innovation, and domestic gas market design.

The organisation stated that South Africa’s decision to join the IEA family is a welcome development, and critical to the advancement of the IEA’s modernisation mandate, which was defined during the 2015 Ministerial meeting and is built on three pillars:

  • Opening the agency’s doors to emerging countries;
  • Broadening energy security beyond oil to natural gas and electricity; and
  • Developing a global clean energy hub, including for energy efficiency.

The result has been a marked growth in the IEA family to include 30 members and eight association countries, and to represent almost 75% of global energy consumption. Read more: China joins forces with IEA to boost its energy efficiency goals