A Renewable Energy Consortium with a Difference
Eastern Africa faces unique energy challenges; five of the ten electricity poorest countries in the world are found here. They are Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
The majority of the population in these five countries use firewood and charcoal for their cooking needs. Moreover, the lighting of homes and businesses is dependent on kerosene-powered hurricane and tin lamps.
There is therefore need for a united effort that can share lessons and coordinate the required technical, financial and human resources to harness renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities. It is upon this basis that the Sustainable Energy Access Forum (SEAF) for East and Southern Africa was formed. SEAF is a consortium that utilizes the principle of Public Private Partnership (PPP) and which brings together a myriad of organizations to address the challenges of access to modern energy services in East and Southern Africa.
This SEAF currently includes World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Practical Action, Bare Foot Power, GVEP International (the Global Village Partnership), SNV Netherlands, Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) and is expected to grow to include more civil society, private sector as well as government agencies involved in sustainable energy access initiatives across the region.
This forum believes that once renewable energy solutions are provided with sufficient policy, technological and institutional support frameworks, East and Southern Africa can secure a sustainable pathway towards access to modern energy services for all. For this to happen, the region has to address some key barriers that include limited financing, lack of consumer awareness, poor technology and ineffective policies.
SEAF believes that more financing for renewable energy should be provided and at the same time fossil-fuel subsidies should be done away with. The national governments, regional government, civil society, individuals and the private sector should champion consumer awareness on sustainable energy. Finally and most importantly, technology transfer and innovations should be encouraged to ultimately aid in the provision of renewable energy services for the poor.