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AUDA-NEPAD and IRENA partner to advance regional interconnections in Africa

AUDA-NEPAD and IRENA partner to advance regional interconnections in Africa
The agreement was signed on September 4, 2023, by Nardos Bekele-Thomas (left) CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, and Francesco La Camera, Director-General at IRENA on the margins of Africa Climate Week in Nairobi, Kenya (photo courtesy IRENA).

The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)have signed an agreement aimed at supporting African countries in their efforts to achieve the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (UN SDG 7) to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

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Through this new partnership, AUDA-NEPAD and IRENA will work to enhance the capabilities of African countries and regional organizations through knowledge-based capacity-building services, support implementation of the renewable energy projects in the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA PAP II), and facilitate access for project developers to IRENA’s Climate Investment Platform and Energy Transition Accelerator Financing platform.

Acknowledging that 80 percent of the global population without access to electricity resides in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is evident that the existing energy infrastructure cannot adequately meet the continent’s needs. The creation of a more equitable energy system—one that leverages a diverse mix of Africa’s abundant renewable resources—is dependent upon a more interconnected, flexible, and reliable power grid in the region. This partnership serves as a pivotal step towards achieving that objective, stated Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA.

AUDA-NEPAD CEO Nardos Bekele-Thomas underscored the findings of the Continental Power Systems Masterplan (CMP), designed to provide a strategic roadmap for connecting Africa’s five power pools, emphasizing the critical need for immediate and proactive measures in Africa’s electricity sector.

The current business-as-usual trajectory falls significantly short of achieving universal electricity access by 2040, necessitating a substantial increase in investments to elevate the continent’s installed capacity from 266 GW to approximately 1 218 GW. To realise this ambitious target, an estimated US$1.29 trillion in cumulative investments will be essential, potentially culminating in the establishment of a robust continental electricity market valued at US$136 billion by 2040. It is imperative to take urgent and strategic actions to accomplish these transformative goals, said Nardos Bekele-Thomas.

Create a Single Electricity Market for Africa

The continued investments in cross-border transmission infrastructure and a deepening of electricity trade will allow African countries to accelerate their energy expansion and transition by sourcing electricity from a wide range of competitive, clean energy resources, by anchoring on the continent’s five power pools to create Africa’s Single Electricity Market.

Since 2021, IRENA, in partnership with other organizations, has supported AUDA-NEPAD and African stakeholders in developing the CMP through modeling activities and a series of capacity-building activities related to energy planning in the region.

The CMP aims to establish a long-term, continent-wide planning process for power generation and transmission that involves all five African power pools. It maps out how to best utilize the vast renewable energy resources across the continent, supporting national power strategies that consider cross-border interconnections as a vital component.

The next phase of CMP will include a special focus on strengthening the planning processes and accelerating the preparation of a bankable pipeline of priority projects at both the regional and country levels.

This brings an opportunity for African countries to align their energy planning processes to a pan-Africa vision and accelerate the realization of Agenda 2063.

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