7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Africa Renewable Energy Initiative

Africa Renewable Energy Initiative

EDD17 - Replay - Africa Renewable Energy Initiative

Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 11:00 to 12:30

Key points

  • The top priority is to light up Africa; this can only happen by increasing renewable energy.
  • The first 19 projects have been approved under Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).
  • Power is needed in rural areas – 70 % of increased generation for off-grid and mini-grid will be from renewables.
  • The cost of renewables is falling, reducing need for investment grants.
  • Governments have to create an enabling policy and regulatory environment where the private sector can step in


The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) aims to enable the installation of large-scale renewable energy capacity in Africa by 2020, which would have a considerable impact on reducing greenhouse gases emissions in the continent.

At least US$5 billion in public and highly concessional finance between 2016 and 2020, from bilateral, multilateral and other sources, including the Green Climate Fund, will be needed to leverage a further US$15 billion in other investments, for a total investment of at least US$20 billion pre-2020.

AREI is led by the African Union’s commission, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)’s Agency, the African Group of Negotiators, the African Development Bank, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

AREI aims to achieve at least 10 GW of new and additional renewable energy generation capacity by 2020. It acknowledges the renewable resource potential in Africa, which the IRENA Africa REmap 2030 estimates as sufficient to generate at least 300 GW by 2030.

Africa has resources but lacks infrastructure and electricity. The population expects access to electricity, and the electricity gap must not widen as population grows. The top priority is to light up Africa. This can only happen by increasing renewable energy. With renewables, it is imperative to replicate what happened in telecoms and the mobile area.

It is necessary to look beyond the standard grid itself. There are important off-grid and mini-grid solutions that are highly suited to generating power in rural areas. And 70 % of increased generation for off-grid and mini-grid will be from renewables.

The AREI is seen as a precious tool that can help to achieve these objectives. This model can be a game-changer in unlocking investment. Some 450 applications have been received in the first two rounds of the initiative and the AREI board has agreed on the first19 projects.

For this programme to succeed, governments need to continue taking political ownership, making access to affordable growth and sustainable development. Along with public utilities, they have to play their part in the transition to renewables, moving towards cost-reflective tariffs and the removal of fossil-fuel subsidies to free up funds for renewable energy investments.

Governments also have to create an enabling policy and regulatory environment, where the private sector can step in.

Also important in the development of renewables are the human resources needed to maintain this infrastructure. These are new technologies for Africa. Thought has to be given to changing the educational curriculum to integrate this new learning. Experienced professionals must provide the necessary training and create the skilled workforce for building, operating and maintaining energy infrastructure.

There is an urgent need to ensure that high-level quality standards are enforced, sound quality control systems are in place, and that governments and civil society build consumer awareness. This means taxpayers, companies and individuals purchasing energy services or equipment can trust they are getting maximum value for their money and that the society makes a durable and reliable return on investment.

Thanks to solar and wind power, prices are going down. This is good news for Africa. It also means that the need for investment grants is going down. 


The AREI could be a game-changer for Africa. Renewables, particularly off-grid and mini-grid, can be a solution for rural areas.

Organised by

    Stefano Manservisi
    Director General
    European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development
    Brigitte Collet
    Ambassador for Climate Change Negotiations
    Renewable Energy and Climate Risk Prevention
    Alpha Condé
    President, Guinea - Chairperson of the African Union
    Ségòlene Royal
    President of UNFCCC COP21
    Luca Lazzaroli
    Deputy Head of Operations
    European Investment Bank
    Oliver Andrews
    Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer
    Africa Finance Corporation
Photo gallery

Password for download : EDD2017