Statement by EU Commissioner for Development Piebalgs on sustainable energy in Africa at the occasion of the High Level Meeting of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), 11-13 February.

Energy is fundamental to development. No energy means no sustainable economic growth, no sustainable agriculture, no quality healthcare; no decent education. In short, no energy means no development.

This is why the EU has set itself the goal to help developing countries provide 500 million people with access to sustainable energy services by 2030.

I believe the EU is uniquely well-placed to do this. It is by far the world’s largest provider of official development assistance. It leads the world in renewable and electricity technologies as well as in the efficient use of energy.

The catalytic role of the EU is demonstrated by our contribution to the UN initiative Sustainable Energy for All and by the fact that the friends of this initiative are there in Addis with you working together for Africa.

This is why as Europeans we have decided to give a very high priority to energy as a motor of sustainable development and why energy is taking up an increasing share of our development cooperation. Since 2007, the Africa-EU Energy Partnership has become the main vehicle for our joint work. This was followed, in 2012, by the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative and boosted with the adoption of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

All of these initiatives mean that today we have a comprehensive and ambitious range of political framework adding up to a productive Energy Partnership.

At our first High Level Meeting in Vienna in 2010 we already set a series of ambitious political targets in our Partnership for 2020 including to provide energy access to an additional 100 million people across Africa; to double cross-border electricity capacity and to significantly increase the use of renewable energy and to improve energy efficiency. We also established the renewable energy cooperation programme.

Today I am pleased to announce that we will top up this programme with 5 million euros.

We have been working on 3 avenues which are already bearing fruit.

  • The Technical Assistance Facility has been established with an amount of €80 million which is already available.
  • Our innovative approach to blending embodied in the hugely successful EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund has built up a pipeline of new energy projects totalling some €700 million in grant requests. These projects have a total investment value of overall €9 billion.
  • In the area of rural electrification, we have received more than 140 applications requesting grants of over €800 million for projects to provide access to electricity to more than 4 million people in poor rural areas.

Further assistance will come on stream when programming of the next EDF and the newly created Pan African Programme will be completed. This will provide significant additional resources for blending operations, including regional and national energy projects across Africa.

In less than two months’ time, leaders from Europe and Africa will come together in Brussels for the Fourth Africa-EU Summit. This will be our opportunity to take stock of our achievements and agree on our shared priorities for the next stage in our Partnership.

Europe stands ready to support Africa’s quest to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth for the benefit of its growing population. As I said at the beginning, energy is key to growth. So I am convinced that our partnership in energy will become even more important in the coming years.