Renewable energy
South Africa's power struggles have opened up a window of opportunity for renewable solutions.
Renewable energy
The SAIREC Declaration opens up windows for opportunity across the African continent

On Tuesday, delegates from 82 countries around the globe, adopted a declaration that calls for the up-scaling and increased deployment of renewable energy, in order to improve global energy access and security and strive towards mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

International and local delegates gathered at the closing of the South African International Renewable Energy Conference (SAIREC), where the South African minister of energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson together with the H.E. Irene Giner-Reichl, President, Global Forum for Sustainable Energy, presented the final declaration.

Energy key to growth

The declaration has set the target to make universal electricity access a reality by 2030. “1.3 billion people, out of which 621 million in the Sub-Saharan region, should be provided access to electricity.”

This is expected to be achieved through the increased deployment of both on and off-grid solutions.

“Furthermore, as of today 2.9 billion people lack access to clean forms of cooking energy which needs to be addressed in order to achieve the universal access target,” the declaration stressed.

An important factor, which has been given focus, is the need for a transparent procurement process, which according to the declaration has been identified as one of the restrictive enablers in increasing the rollout of RE projects in Africa and especially in SADC.

A topic that has been placed high on the national agenda is the localising of the value chain. By investing in the upskilling of local communities, and re-investing money back into the same region, will only drive economic growth and development.

The declaration noted: “Whilst growing African energy economies, we need to ensure localization of supply chains for not only the supply of equipment and plant, but also the maintenance and operation of facilities.

“Installations with local ownership can make sure that the local communities benefit directly and that they are involved in the planning process. This will create jobs and grow skills as well as may reduce costs and will substantially increase social acceptance.”

Joemat-Pettersson stressed in her closing speech: “Africa’s energy sector is vital to its development.

“Energy contributes to a better quality of life. To those that have it, modern energy unlocks access to improved healthcare, improved education, improved economic opportunities and, even longer life. To those that don’t, it is a major constraint on their social and economic development.”

Global challenge

Joemat-Pettersson said in conclusion: “I challenge all of you here to ensure that this declaration should not become part of a talk show.

“Rather it should be embedded into your countries’ commitments so that when we meet at the next IREC [International Renewable Energy Conference]  we can reflect on progress in the next two years instead of just adopting another declaration.”