Africa and Europe plan tighter energy cooperation for development

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Global technologyA high level meeting of energy ministers and experts is scheduled for April 20, 2010, in Vienna, Austria, to discuss how Africa?s energy production can be improved by using new European technology for the benefit of the two continents.

The meeting comes as Western Europe struggles to find alternatives to oil as gas from Russia. Moscow has consistently been cutting fuel supplies to Europe over pricing and political difference over the past four years.

Analysts believe that Africa has vast energy resources, both fossil fuels and renewable, that could be fully tapped by the use of new technology. Nigeria, Angola and Algeria are already supplying oil and gas to Italy, Portugal, Spain and France, but officials are looking at increasing shipments.

This Vienna meeting will be a follow up to the Feb 23-24 meeting in Cairo which stressed the centrality of energy to development and called for a reliable and sustainable energy supply for both Europe and Africa. Leaders agreed that boosting energy output was a prerequisite to reaching the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of world’s hungry and poor until 2015.? ??

The plan was initially hatched in December 2007 when African and European heads of state and government met in Lisbon and agreed to launch the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) as one of the eight strategic partnerships comprising the Africa-EU Joint Strategy.

Under this partnership, the two continents would share their knowhow and resources from 2010 to 2013, tune their complementary interests and closely link their policies to meet the energy challenge. ?

By developing a tighter relationship between both continents?also literally by cross border interconnection?Africa and the Europe intend to join forces for the mutual benefit of their people. They also want to reinforce the political dialogue between the African Union and the European Union through national and regional energy administrations and other relevant authorities at the appropriate level.

As part of this dialogue, they want to reaffirm their commitment to enhancing energy security and energy access, and that would include the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Africa.

The plan is to increase the use of renewable energy in Africa by building 10 000 MW of new hydro-power facilities; by building at least 5 000 MW of wind power; by harnessing 500 MW of solar energy in the Sahara; and by tripling the capacity of other renewable, such as geothermal, and modern biomass.

They also want to improve energy efficiency in all sectors, starting with natural gas that would be shipped to Europe for power generation and smart grid that would be developed in Africa.? The potential market is huge: 250 million Africans and 100 million Europeans.