Under the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC). program, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) supports the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and its eleven Members States in the establishment of the Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Central Africa (CEREEAC), which aims to accelerate the energy and climate transition by providing support „from the region for the region“.
B. Preparatory and First Operational Phase
The technical and institutional design of the CEREEAC is the result of a comprehensive consultative preparatory process, which was undertaken between 2020 and 2021 to determine the added value, feasibility as well as the technical and institutional design of the centre. The process included the development of a baseline and needs assessment and was closely coordinated with the efforts of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to design a Renewable Energy Roadmap for Central Africa.
In June 2021, UNIDO and IRENA organised a regional workshop from 1-3 June 2021 in Brazzaville, Congo, which validated the technical and institutional design of the centre and roadmap. The establishment of CEREEAC was adopted by the Energy Ministers on 8 June 2021 and it was formally established by Decision No. 04/CEEAC/CCEG/XIX/21 of the 19th Conference of Heads of State and Government held in Brazzaville on 30 July 2021. Following a selection process, the capital of Angola, Luanda, was designated as the host country of the Secretariat of the centre. The Secretariat will operate through a network of National Focal Institutions (NFIs) and Thematic Hubs (THs) among all ECCAS countries.
The developed project document on the 1st Operational Phase of the CEREEAC provides a guiding framework for the full operationalisation of the centre, its governance structure, internal rules and procedures, as well as its technical cooperation portfolio within a period of five years. From the very beginning, the centre will operate according to local rules and within ECCAS ownership and decision-making processes. UNIDO provides mentoring and technical services related to institution-building, technical program development, partnership building and fund mobilisation throughout the first operational phase. It is envisaged that the centre operates fully independent and sustainable by end of the project period.
The CEREEAC aims to address demand and supply-side barriers for integrated and inclusive ECCAS sustainable energy product and service markets by promoting economies of scales, equal progress, joint learning and spill-over effects between countries. Through cross-border approaches and methodologies, the centres will complement and accelerate national efforts in the areas of policy, regulation, quality infrastructure, qualification, knowledge and facilitation of investment and entrepreneurship. It will serve as a central hub for knowledge, advice, as well as international and local partnerships.
With the creation of the CEREEAC, the GN-SEC will cover the entire African continent and is an important triangular capacity to accelerate the implementation of the industrialisation, energy and climate goals in the African Union Agenda 2063 “The Africa We want”. It contributes to the AU efforts to establish a harmonised continental electricity market and free trade area, as well as the implementation of Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (2016–2025). UNIDO will facilitate south-south and triangular cooperation between CEREEAC and the other African centres, including RCREEE (Egypt), ECREEE (Cape Verde), SACREEE (Namibia) and EACREEE (Kampala) on common energy issues and solutions.
The creation of the CEREEAC is an important contribution to the envisaged structural transformation in Central Africa. Global emergencies, such as climate change and the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, are demonstrating the vulnerability of these countries, which are highly dependent on the export of raw materials, including oil and gas. The shift towards renewables, energy and resource efficiency, as well as circular economy practices is an important prerequisite for the success of economic diversification, industrialisation and climate policies. The expansion of higher added value manufacturing and servicing in Central Africa requires rapid investments in climate-resilient low-carbon energy infrastructure.
D. 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.
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).
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UNIDO: Mr. Martin Lugmayr and Mr. Gentjan Sema
ECCAS: Mr. Désiré Armand Ndemazagoa-Backotta and Mr. Jean Koutele