The European Union and Africa have agreed to take joint action to achieve a goal of setting up over 15,500 MW of renewable energy facilities in Africa and pledged to provide sustainable energy to at least 100 million Africans additionally by 2020.
A joint declaration to the effect was signed by high-ranking officials of both the continents at the first high level meeting of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) held in Vienna on 14-15 September.
''No sustainable development without sustainable energy solutions.'' Austrian foreign minister Michael Spindelegger commented at the opening address of the conference.
''A reliable energy supply drives social development and economic growth, and plays an essential role in fighting poverty,'' he said.
According to the declaration, Africa and EU will increase the use of renewable energy by setting up 10,000 MW of new hydro power facilities, at least 5,000 MW of wind power and 500 MW of solar energy and tripling the capacity of other renewable energy sources before 2020, besides improving the energy efficiency in all sectors.
AEEP was set up in 2007 in Lisbon by all African and European heads of state and governments as one of the eight strategic partnerships comprising Africa-EU joint strategy, to share the knowhow and resources of both the continents to meet the energy challenge of both Africa and Europe, through reliable and sustainable energy supply.
The AEEP is supported on the European side by the co-chairs Austria and Germany, while the African side is represented by African Union Commission and Mauritius, through their representative organisations.
Around 250 participants attended the first high level meeting comprising policy makers from African and European Union Commissions, and over 21 ministers responsible for energy and development in Africa and the EU.
The Africa-EU renewable energy cooperation programme (RECP) was also officially launched at the meeting.
EU commissioner for energy, Gunther Oettinger said: "Today we have agreed to cooperate closely in order to bring access to modern and sustainable energy services to at least an additional 100 million Africans; to double the capacity of cross border electricity interconnections within Africa and between Africa and Europe and to double the use of natural gas in Africa.
The RECP is aimed at mobilising the European resource base, experience and capacity in order to build expertise and capacity in Africa and contribute to exploration and development of Africa's vast untapped renewable energy potential, which will benefit both the continents through increased employment opportunities, energy security and improved energy access.
In his speech, EU commissioner for development, Andris Piebalgs said: "Today 1.6 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.''
''Africa has a vast untapped renewable energy potential, ranging from hydro, to solar, wind, geothermal and biomass which could be used to ensure millions of people access to electricity,'' he further added.
Kenyan energy minister Kiraitu Murungi urged the EU to set up an insurance fund to cushion African governments against investments in energy ventures.