New Energy for Africa - Cooperative, decentralized and renewable

In cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for International Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Agency for Renewable Energy (Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien), the DZ Bank hosted a congress in Berlin on June 27th aiming to mobilize and enable investment in renewable energy in Africa.

According to Dr. Christoph Beier, Vice-Chair of the Management Board of the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), about 58% of people in Africa, 620 million people, do not have access to electricity. With the African population expected to double by 2050, the challenges are high in terms of food supply, energy and jobs creation for all. In Uganda, “only 20% of population has access to electricity, the other 80%, mostly in the rural areas, are in darkness” said Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Mineral Development of Uganda.

The first session of the congress focused on energy for development. Discussions looked into the necessity to have access to energy in order to ensure food security, health care, education, lighting at night, logistics chains, informatics systems and overall economic development.

Representatives from the German Ministry for International Cooperation and Development and other development agencies discussed possible mechanisms to facilitate the energy transition.

“Renewable energy is a motor for local and rural development” said Dr. Christoph Beier. Regional value creation can be a strong argument in favor of renewable energy cooperatives. The German Minister for International Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Müller, highlighted the central role of such cooperatives in the energy transition. In Germany, 800 new cooperatives have been created and 1800 individuals have been engaged. Some of the success factors highlighted by the speakers include an enabling policy and regulatory framework, stakeholder motivation, competence and partnerships.

Representatives from various cities came to share their experience in using the energy transition as a driver of economic development.

Twenty years ago the community of Wildpoldsried Municipality, Germany was impacted by the accident of Chernobyl, raising awareness about the risks of nuclear energy. In addition, most of the expenses of local households and businesses went to the supply of energy. Producing energy locally therefore appeared as an opportunity to keep this money in the local community.

The Wildpoldsried Municipality invested 40 million EUR in decentralized energy. They first began by covering the municipal roofs with solar photovoltaics to demonstrate the technology to the local community, raise awareness and acceptance. “This built trust among the community and after a few years everyone wanted to participate” said Günter Mögele, Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Wildpoldsried. The electricity grid was re-municipalized to overcome the barriers to the integration of renewables. The municipal energy utility now manages the system which uses different renewable energy sources including solar, wind, biomass and hydro. The village now produces 7 times more electricity than is consumes, making it a net exporter.

The Deputy Mayor of Wildpoldsried highlighted the importance of stable long-term policy and regulatory frameworks and the need for national governments to do their part in creating the necessary enabling framework, local markets, digitalization and integration of systems.

Quelimane, Mozambique, obtains electricity from Cabora Bassa hydroelectric plant, 800 km away. Maintenance costs of the line are very high. “For municipalities to have investment in energy is a way to slow-down and stop migration of the young population to the big cities” said Manuel de Araújo, Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique. The mayor sees as one of his main roles the creation of local institutions that citizens can trust to support the local community activities: “Knowledge, technology and financial resources are needed. We need to create trust and build a long term partnership because this is a long-term problem. We need to include Africa in the train of sustainable development.”

The event confirmed Africa’s tremendous potential to leap-frog over fossil-fuel based technologies and transition to clean and sustainable energy for all.

More information:

To learn more about what cities around the world are doing to transition to a sustainable 100% renewable energy future visit our webpage.

Video developed by BMZ: Renewable Energy G20 Africa Partnership 2017

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