Renewable energy leaders meet in Rome to set priorities for Africa’s clean energy transition

Renewable energy industry, decisionmakers and financial institutions gather in Rome for a Special Session of the IEA Renewable Industry Advisory Board co-organised by RES4Med&Africa and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Over 100 participants and 25 speakers meet at Rome’s Farnesina Palace for an open and high-level exchange on what is needed to scale up renewable energy investments in Africa. Organized back-to-back with the Ministerial Conference Italy-Africa hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, the event is an ideal forum for business and policy leadership to exchange openly about how to accelerate renewable energy investments in Africa.

Renewable energy plays a pivotal role in the African continent to improve energy access, strengthen energy security, consolidate resilient growth, trigger socio-economic benefits such as job creation and inclusive development, and improve prosperity, security and socio-economic stability in Africa overall. Speakers and panelists share their views on the issues of energy access in Africa through decentralized solutions and the quality of supply in grid-connected systems, as well as highlight financial institutions’ perspective on the way forward.

Accelerating Africa’s renewable energy transition requires a favorable business environment based on appropriate enabling policy and regulatory frameworks, and bottom-up innovation dynamics and business models. Strong financial de-risking mechanisms are pivotal to promote medium and long-term investments in grid-connected and off-grid renewable energy projects. Supporting the creation of enabling environments for investments will help bring about innovative and sustainable, locally-grown solutions.

High-level presence and contributions include a keynote address by Minister Plenary Massimo Gaiani, Director General for Global Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, and opening by Mr. Paolo Frankl, Head of the Renewable Energy Division at IEA, followed by speeches by Mrs. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union, and Mrs. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, as well as Mr. Antonio Cammisecra, President of RES4Med&Africa and CEO of Enel Green Power. The event is also graced with the presence of Minister Giorgio Marrapodi, Director General for Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; and His Excellency Matthew Nkhuwa, Cabinet Minister of Energy of Zambia.

As key outcomes, the African Union and RES4Africa signed a letter of intent for the “Renewable Energy Capacity Building Program”, a comprehensive RE regional training programme which will take place in 5 African countries. Moreover, a Memorandum of Understanding is signed between UNECA and RES4Med&Africa for joint cooperation and as the first step of UNECA’s joining of RES4Med&Africa as a regional member, a recently introduced membership category of the RES4Med&Africa network.

The session agenda covers four main topics: “RE in Africa: status, scenarios, priorities” provides an overview of the general African context, and is followed by “How to improve quality of electricity supply? Challenges and opportunities in sub-urban and peri-urban areas”, which focuses on the need to electrify these areas that are becoming bigger and bigger as the urbanization process goes on, and how the integration of renewable energy into the grid can support this process. “Decentralized renewable energy to accelerate sustainable development: what business model and what role for PPP’s?” focuses on how decentralised solutions could play a key role in Africa’s rural as the quickest and most cost-effective way towards electrification. The final session, “IFI’s role to accelerate RE investments, what additional tools?”, offers insights on possible solutions to resolve the number of risks that investors face when investing in African countries. As highlight, Mr. Cammisecra presents the launch of “RenewAfrica”, a new initiative led by RES4Med&Africa to reach sound conclusions about the need for a new instrument supporting large scale RE plant development in Africa, providing the investors with a “one-stop shop” instrument for financing and guarantees, and the governments with a structured tool to support the policy and the regulatory framework for the country.

“Energy issues, among which the development of renewable energy, are an increasingly pressing priority in national and global policies. Supporting the creation of enabling environments for renewable energy investments will help bring about innovative and sustainable, locally-grown solutions” states Antonio Cammisecra, “Occasions like this session provide the opportunity to take a step back from day to day necessities and jointly brainstorm a strategic vision on the industry’s emerging developments”.