East Africa joins global network of energy centres
An East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, or EACREEE, has been launched at Makerere University in Uganda to address energy issues faced by the five East African Community nations of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
It joins the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres, coordinated by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization or UNIDO.
“The centres respond to the urgent need for increased regional cooperation and capacities to mitigate existing barriers to renewable energy and energy efficiency investment, markets and industries,” UNIDO says.
EACREEE has been created by the East African Community or EAC states with support from the Austrian Development Agency, UNIDO and the Australian Agency for International Development, as part of global efforts to make Sustainable Energy for All a reality in 2030, as per the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
EACREEE's work will contribute particularly to the cross-cutting areas of the goal on sustainable energy, and the goal on sustainable industrial development. It will work towards limiting average global surface temperature increases.
The centre is based in Makerere University’s college of engineering, design, art and technology, and operates through a network of national focal institutions among all East African states.
EACREEE’s main aim is to develop and implement a regional renewable energy policy framework for the EAC, and facilitate its implementation at national levels to ensure the availability of sufficient, reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy sources.
This will be achieved through innovative partnerships within the region and beyond that will tackle energy, climate and development challenges simultaneously.
What the centre will do
The centre was inspired by the success of the Economic Community of West African States’ ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, and responds to the different energy challenges East African countries are facing, including energy access, energy security and climate change mitigation.
EACREEE will act as a regional think-tank as well as strengthening ongoing national activities in the areas of policy and capacity development, knowledge management, awareness raising, and investment in and business promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
It will contribute towards improved access to modern, affordable and reliable energy services, energy security and mitigation of negative externalities of energy systems – such as pollution – by creating an enabling environment for renewable energy, and energy efficiency markets and investments.
“The centre will promote all appropriate and sustainable renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, promote small-scale and medium-scale hydro power projects, and bio-fuel projects and liquid petroleum gas cooking projects,” said Professor Henry Alinaitwe, principal of the college of engineering, design, art and technology at Makerere.
EACREEE will support and execute renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that cover one or more EAC countries, focusing primarily on activities with regional impact or national projects that demonstrate high potential for scaling-up or regional replication.
“Adequate renewable energy is key towards promoting industrialisation and subsequently achieving middle-income status by 2020,” said Jesca Eriyo, EAC deputy secretary general, at the centre’s launch earlier this month.
Philippe Scholtes, managing director at UNIDO, emphasised the importance of inclusive and sustainable industrial development, and the roles of sustainable energy and private-public partnerships. “The global network of regional sustainable energy centres assists development partners in an effective and efficient way,” said Scholtes.
The Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres platform offers an umbrella for South-South activities, according to UNIDO. There is a common understanding that some ‘soft barriers’ to renewable energy and energy efficiency can be tackled more effectively and at lower cost through regional approaches.
The expanding post-2015 South-South and triangular partnership comprises various centres in Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and other regions, and they enjoy high-level support from energy ministers.