Kigali, Rwanda, 27 November 2017 (ECA) – The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through its Sub-Regional Office for Eastern African hostes the launch of the Least Developed Countries Report 2017, presented by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The focus of this year’s report is on transformational energy access, which goes beyond household use of energy to encompass productive uses in order to foster sustainable development and job creation. The report shows that more than 60% of people in LDCs live without access to electricity
Eastern African countries have made tremendous progress over the past years in energy access. In Kenya for example, energy access level increased from 17% in 2013 to above 27% in 2017, according to East Africa Community (EAC)’s figures. However, levels in the region remain below sub-Saharan averages, while Eastern Africa has among the least industrial consumption of energy in the continent. Funding gap forecasts for Eastern Africa indicate that $4.2 billion are required every year in the energy sector until 2020, highlighting the need for sustainable sources of financing.
ECA in Eastern Africa has been working with member states to address industrial energy constraint and generate growth dividends. In Rwanda, ECA has partnered with the Ministry of Infrastructure to improve on sustainable management of renewable energy technologies deployment and the pursuit of energy efficiency. It has also supported capacity development in energy planning. In addition, the sub-regional office is working in close collaboration with EAC to improve energy efficiency, enhance technology management in renewable energies and ensure energy access security. Yohannes Hailu is ECA’s energy policy expert in Eastern Africa. “To accelerate economic transformation, specially through industrial development, sustained investment in the energy sector from public and private sources will continue to be crucial. To industrialize, Eastern Africa will need to energize”, he said.
In her introductory remarks, Ms. Germaine Kamayirese, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of Energy, Water and Sanitation, underlined the Government’s vision of increasing energy access to achieve the country’s transformation agenda. She said that Rwanda is targeting 100% energy access level for productive uses by 2024.
“For years, ECA has been advocating for Africa’s industrialization as a key towards its structural transformation. One of ECA’s key argument is that sustainable investment in infrastructure and energy in particular will be a driver for growth. UNCTAD’s LDC Report is a timely reminder of the need to focus on the industrialization agenda”, argues Andrew Mold, ECA’s Acting Director in Eastern Africa.
Harnessing the link between energy and structural transformation is critical for development in LDCs, claimed Matfobhi Riba, UNCTAD’s Economic Affairs Officer, calling for strengthening LDC energy systems through a combination of long-term system-wide planning supported by sound technology and innovation frameworks.
Office for Eastern Africa
Economic Commission for Africa