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The U.S.-Africa Energy Ministerial (USAEM) was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3-4 June 2014 at the African Union Conference Center. The two-day meeting was characterized by constructive and collaborative discussion among the delegations, the private sector, and other stakeholders. The meeting ended with agreement to develop a clear roadmap to catalyze sustainable energy development across African nations.
This event is a direct outgrowth of U.S. President Barack Obama’s travel to Africa in June-July 2013, where he called for a new level of energy and commercial engagement with Africa. At President Obama’s direction, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, U.S. Export Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, Overseas Private Investment Corporation President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield, U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director Leocadia Zak, Millennium Challenge Corporation Vice President of the Department of Compact Operations Kamran Khan, and U.S. Africa Development Foundation Vice-Chairman of the Board John Agwunobi offered their support to the USAEM. Building on this foundation of U.S. Government support, the USAEM sought to:
- Advance clean energy and energy efficiency deployment;
- Explore new models for gas utilization;
- Highlight effective business models and other practices in mini-grid development;
- Promote regional grid cooperation;
- Support energy-related technical exchanges;
- Grow bilateral energy trade between the United States and Africa;
- Support the goals of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative.
Engaging the private sector and advancing regional energy solutions in Africa were important themes. African nations also supported the event with nation-to-nation and regional exchanges, and commitments of significant future cooperation.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn addressed the USAEM opening plenary, noting Ethiopia’s recognition of the critical role of energy in improving the wellbeing of its people. The Prime Minister outlined the various aspects of Ethiopia’s energy policy, which is informed by its development targets and sectoral policies and strategies. He emphasized the need to scale up investment in the production and consumption of energy services if Africa is meant to be the next global growth pole, and to this end, he expressed appreciation for President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative as a step in the right direction. He also expressed appreciation to the recently initiated long-term high level dialogue in the energy sector between Africa and its development partners and thanked the U.S. Secretary of Energy for the announcements he made earlier which are expected to elevate Africa’s energy development capacity. The Prime Minister emphasized that African nations understand that in order to attract private sector financing of the energy sector, there is a need for energy prices, where they are subsidized by governments, to be raised to reflect market prices. He underscored, however, that many African governments view electricity as a social benefit and a development tool rather than a commercial service and that this view also needs to be respected when reforming energy policy. A balanced solution must be found to both encourage investment and meet development needs. He echoed Secretary Moniz’s statement that the USAEM will promote U.S.-Africa public and private sector partnerships and noted that the USAEM will open the gateway for exploring the opportunities available in Africa’s energy market.
Ethiopian Water, Irrigation, and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu noted the significance of the USAEM for the advancement of energy cooperation between the United States and the nations of Africa. He commended the broad coverage of the ten USAEM panels, bringing government officials and private sector professionals together for high level dialogue on a variety of topics critical to the U.S.-Africa energy relationship. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz highlighted the United States’ strong commitment to African nations' achieving their energy development goals and to the mutual economic opportunity that can be realized through this growth. He also highlighted President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, noting both the progress that has been made and the continued priority that this initiative will have going forward. He announced the Power Africa “Beyond The Grid” initiative. This effort will forge partnerships between the U.S. Government and the private sector to demonstrate the benefits of off-grid technologies. These technologies can expand access to modern energy services and assure the reliability of off-grid energy systems. Secretary Moniz discussed the opportunity for the USAEM to yield ideas about collaboration that could advance the agenda of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit to be held in Washington, DC on August 5-6, 2014. He also highlighted specific actions being implemented by U.S. Government programs such as the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Elham Mahmood Ahmed Ibrahim provided a pan-African view of energy growth across the continent, highlighting new cooperation among African nations, most notably at the regional level, and CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin reviewed current trends in African and global energy, noting the recent developments regarding increasing production capacity and growing consumption. Fatih Birol, Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency, presented information on the scope and goals for the World Energy Outlook 2014, previewing a special report that will share results of a continent-wide focus on Africa.
During a closed session, Ministers discussed concrete steps to foster greater energy development and utilization. Ministers noted the very diverse requirements each country has for energy development, as well as the barriers that in some areas are shared among many African states and others around the globe. Ministers also highlighted that continued investment in infrastructure and improvement of electricity access is imperative for Africa to reach its development goals. Select accomplishments announced by ministers to date related to the USAEM are available at: www.energy.gov/ia/initiatives/us-africa-energy-ministerial.
Ministers also discussed strategy and next steps for sustainable energy infrastructure development in Africa. Topics discussed included creating technical exchanges, discussing best practices in governance, encouraging private investment, and exploring financing methods.
Ministers, other government officials, private sector representatives from the United States and Africa, and international thought leaders participated in ten panel sessions focused on a range of energy topics. Sessions focused on energy governance, U.S. and multilateral energy financing tools, mini-grid development, energy efficiency deployment, women and energy leadership, the Power Africa initiative, renewable energy development, gas utilization, regional grid stability and smart grid technologies, and technical energy capacity building exchanges. There were also discussions focused on upstream energy development and the energy-water nexus. Major themes emerging from the sessions included the need for a focus on transparency and rule of law in governance, the benefits of U.S. and multilateral financing tools, the role that a broad range of sustainable technologies could play in improving energy access, the importance of considering the expansion and deepening of the U.S. Government’s Power Africa initiative, whose original aims are to add 10,000 megawatts of electricity and 20 million new connections in six select Sub-Saharan African countries in the coming years, and the immediate need for greater capacity building so all African citizens can play an effective role in energy decision-making. A report of discussions and recommendations emerging from each session will be made available at: www.energy.gov/ia/initiatives/us-africa-energy-ministerial.
Participants expressed great appreciation for Ethiopia’s leadership in hosting the Ministerial. Ministers and senior officials from the African Union, People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, the Republic of Angola, the Republic of Benin, the Republic of Botswana, Burkina Faso, the Republic of Burundi, the Republic of Cabo Verde, the Republic of Chad, the Union of the Comoros, the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Djibouti, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, the Gabonese Republic, the Republic of the Gambia, the Republic of Ghana, the Republic of Guinea, the Republic of Kenya, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Liberia, Libya, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mali, the Republic of Mauritania, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of Senegal, the Republic of Seychelles, the Republic of Sierra Leone, the Republic of South Africa, the Republic of South Sudan, the Kingdom of Swaziland, the United Republic of Tanzania, the Togolese Republic, the Tunisian Republic, the Republic of Uganda, and the Republic of Zambia attended the meeting. Multilateral participants included the United Nations, the International Energy Agency, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others.