Africa needs ambitious financing for renewable energy projects of all sizes in order to stimulate investment, maintain rapid economic growth and provide universal energy access around the continent, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Frank Wouters, IRENA’s Deputy Director-General, said Africa could achieve widespread prosperity by concentrating on renewable energy projects for rapid expansion of electrical services.
“In order to meet its rapidly growing energy needs within the next two decades, Africa requires vast investments in new energy projects, from large investments to feed national power systems, to innovative, localised off-grid solutions to bring power to people and areas that are currently not served,“ he said. “Renewables offer great business opportunities to meet these energy needs.”
Mr Wouters made the comments at a panel session on energy and water finance for Africa during the World Energy Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“Of the nearly 1.4 billion people in the world today who still lack access to electricity, the majority live on the African continent,” he added.
IRENA will start receiving applications in November for renewable energy financing through a new US$350 million facility for the Abu Dhabi Development Fund (ADFD). Each project proposal must be government-backed. The funding consists of US$50 million per year for seven years.
The ADFD-IRENA facility was created as part of the UAE’s bid in 2009 to host the new inter-governmental agency, which promotes the sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy worldwide.
“We want to ensure that funds reach projects in developing countries that, along with being renewable-based and sustainable, are innovative and replicable, so that good practices will in turn spread to other projects and countries,” Mr Wouters added.
The World Energy Forum – held for the first time outside United Nations Headquarters in New York – is part of a series of high-level international energy and environmental events in the UAE and the Gulf Region in the months ahead. Qatar will host the UN Climate Change Conference in November-December. The third session of the Assembly of IRENA on 13-14 January coincides with the opening of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in the UAE capital.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), founded in 2009, held its first Assembly in Abu Dhabi in April 2011, where the Agency is headquartered. With the current participation of 101 Members (100 Member States and the European Union), plus 58 more signatories or applicants for membership, IRENA has become a nexus of international efforts to accelerate the worldwide deployment of renewable energy technologies. www.irena.org