ECCAS Centre for Sustainable Energy

A. Introduction 

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are partnering on the establishment of the Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Central Africa (CEREEAC) as part of the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC).

UNIDO and ECCAS are implementing a comprehensive consultative preparatory process, which will determine the added value, feasibility as well as the technical and institutional design of the centre. The process is closely coordinated with the activities of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP).

The CEREEAC process includes the preparation of a needs and feasibility assessment, a project document on the first operational phase, as well as broad stakeholder consultations. The project document will be sent for consideration by the ECCAS Energy Ministers and Heads of State. ECREEE and other GN-SEC centres will contribute with lessons learned. Further information on the process will be published regularly on this website.

Regional Workshop and Meeting of ECCAS Energy Ministers to validate and approve the CEREEAC are scheduled to take place from 1-3 June 2021 in Brazzaville, Congo. The meeting will be jointly organised with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which assisted ECCAS in the development of a Regional Renewable Energy Roadmap for Central Africa. International experts are invited to provide comments on the CEREEAC documents by 17 May 2021 to: The CEREEAC assessment and project document are available below. 

C. Need for a regional centre

The ECCAS region is facing similar economic, social and environmental challenges as other regions in Sub Sahara Africa. ECCAS is comprising eleven member states  whereas most of them are classified as low or lower-income countries. ECCAS countries represent a growing population of 172 million and remain fragile in a political and economic view. In the energy sector, the region faces a bundle of challenges. Although the region has vast fossil fuel and renewable energy potentials, the access rate to modern, reliable and affordable energy services remains very low. The total electricity production and consumption is lower than in other African regions.

In six countries the electricity access rate is lower than 50%. The power transmission and distribution systems often do not expand to rural and remote areas and are characterised by high electricity losses, load shedding and blackouts. Existing electricity infrastructure and hydropower generation capacity is also challenged by the impacts of climate change. The regional power market remains weakly developed. The majority of the population does not have access modern cooking services and relies on traditional biomass in rural or charcoal in urban contexts. Of the eleven ECCAS member countries, seven (i.e. Angola, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon) are net exporters of energy (crude oil products).

Apart from fossil fuel resources, the region has vast renewable energy potentials, particularly large hydro, but also small hydro, solar, wind, geothermal and bioenergy. Already in 2015, around 50% of the electric generation capacity was based primarily on large hydropower. Hydropower resources of the region alone would be sufficient to meet the power needs of the entire African continent. Only a fraction is provided today by other renewable sources.

To achieve the energy access, energy security, environmental (GHG emissions, local pollution) and socio-economic development goals simultaneously, significant financing for ECCAS sustainable energy infrastructure is required in the upcoming years. The Renewable Energy Road Map for Central Africa, developed by IRENA and ECCAS, demonstrates that around 80% of the electricity mix could be provided by renewable energy sources (around 25% by non-large hydro) by 2030. Moreover, the area of distributed renewable energies in urban settings and the area of mini-grids and stand-alone systems for rural energy could play an important role. Similarly, the area of energy efficiency is important. Existing data indicates that all dimensions of energy efficiency are a challenge for ECCAS countries.

This includes the area of technical and commercial generation/transmission losses as well as efficiency standards for lighting, appliances, buildings and key industries. Only a few ECCAS countries have adopted effective policies, regulations and standards incentivising the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions. Only three countries (Angola, Cameroon, Rwanda) have set concrete targets of achieving 100% electricity access by 2030.

The establishment of an integrated and inclusive ECCAS market for renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services by 2030 is facing manifold barriers which need to be addressed simultaneously in all countries. These include barriers in the areas of planning, policy and regulation, qualification and certification, knowledge and data management, as well as financing, entrepreneurship and innovation. The IRENA road map document identifies priority actions to address the existing barriers for renewable energy markets on regional level. One key recommendation includes the establishment of a dedicated regional entity to promote renewables and energy efficiency.

With the creation of the Central African centre, the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC) would cover all parts of Africa. The centre could closely cooperate with RCREEE, ECREEE, SACREEE and EACREEE, the regional economic communities and the power pools on intercontinental issues under the African Union (AU) framework. GN-SEC examples have proven, that the strengthening of regional capacities through a dedicated institution can help to accelerate national efforts and contribute to better coordination, coherence and equal progress, as well as economies of scale. The centre will lie in the full ownership of ECCAS. UNIDO will provide mentoring and technical services for the establishment of the centre and its technical program throughout the first operational phase.

The creation of CEREEAC is fully in line with regional policies of ECCAS and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). It is part of the ECCAS efforts to establish an integrated and inclusive single market for products and services in traditional and emerging sectors, including sustainable energy and cleantech. The establishment of the centre will complement and significantly contribute to the existing efforts of ECCAS to promote energy and transport connectivity in the region. It is also part of strategies, which aim to diversify the economies and reduce the dependency on the export of raw materials and primary products (incl. fossil fuels). The temporary oil price drop caused by the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the risk of being primarily dependent on the export of oil products.

Important reference documents are the ECCAS Green Economy and Renewable Energy Vision, the ECCAS Vision 2025, as well as the CEMAC White Paper and Energy Policy 2035. The establishment of CEREEAC is complementary to the efforts to expand the regional power market through the Central African Power Pool (CAPP) and the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). 

D. Contacts

Please do not hesitate to contact the project team by e-mail: 

UNIDO: Mr. Martin Lugmayr and Mr. Gentjan Sema 

ECCAS: Mr. Désiré Armand Ndemazagoa-Backotta and Mr. Jean Koutele

ITPEnergised: Mrs Claudia Raimundo, Mrs Akanksha Chaurey, Mr. Joss Blamire

ECREEE: Mr. Charles Diarra and Mr. Baboucarr Njie