ADDIS ABABA, June 12 (Xinhua) -- African energy experts and policymakers on Wednesday urged African countries to prioritize investments in renewable energy amid growing demand for energy sources across the continent.
The two organizations made the urgent call during the first-ever ministerial forum on the future of Africa's energy sector, which was co-organized by the African Union (AU) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday at the headquarters of the AU in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa under the theme "Powering Africa's Energy Future."
The high-level continental meeting, among others, emphasized the need to address electricity and clean-cooking access, power market interconnectivity, infrastructure development and energy sector investment in Africa.
African energy sector experts and policymakers, who have also engaged in a policy dialogue as part of the high-level forum, also lauded the forum as "a unique opportunity in identifying opportunities and best practices for developing and investing in Africa's energy markets," the AU said in a statement on Wednesday.
The continental meeting, which aimed to provide "critical inputs" into the IEA's 2019 special report on Africa for the World Energy Outlook (WEO), is also expected to contribute to tracking and analyzing progress towards achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly target 7 of the SDGs on "ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all," it was noted.
According to figures from the IEA, Sub-Saharan Africa "has the potential to leapfrog to a new development path fuelled by renewable and natural gas."
The continent, which accounts for 13 percent of global population, however, is the least in energy demand as compared to other parts of the world, with only 4 percent of the world's energy demand -- half of which is said to be from biomass energy sources "causing severe health impact."
Analyzing ongoing efforts by African countries and pan African institutions, the high-level forum also reiterated the need to realize targets set out under the AU's Agenda 2063 towards "a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development starting with its 10-year implementation plan," the AU said.
The ministerial meeting, among other things, stressed that developing Africa's energy sector potential as an "essential step to providing greater economic opportunities and prosperity across the continent, which is home to vast energy resources."
The need to ensure access to reliable, modern, affordable and sustainable energy as an imperative to drive the momentum in the realization of Africa's 50-year development Agenda 2063 was also echoed among experts and policymakers.
More than 600 million people across the continent remain without access to electricity, according to the AU.
The AU and IEA also revealed their joint aspiration to position the ministerial forum as an annual event so as to advocate energy access in the African continent.
The continental meeting was held following the signing of an agreement between the AU and IEA in May last year towards working together to realize shared goals of supporting enhanced energy security, energy statistics, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable economic development in Africa, it was noted. Enditem