Non-Aligned Movement realises the significance of access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services for sustainable development. The Movement has stressed the need to accelerate the development, dissemination and deployment of affordable and cleaner energy efficiency and energy conservation technologies, new and renewable energy technologies, especially in the developing countries.
In Africa, despite a vast potential to harness the continent’ energy resources, they have remained unutilized. This aspect has been recognised in various action plans and mechanisms formulated for Africa’s development. The Lagos Plan of Action for Africa’s development 1980- 2000 highlighted the need to assess comprehensively all energy resources, their potential, possibilities of development and use of energy requirements and need to initiate joint actions by African countries to develop and harness Africa’s available resources.
An important initiative towards harnessing the energy resources of Africa is AFREC or African Energy Commission. AFREC was created on July 2001 in Lusaka by the African Presidents and is hosted by People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria. AFREC was envisaged to map out energy development policies, strategies and plans based on sub-regional, regional and continental development priorities and recommend their implementation.
As of May 2019, 37 African countries have ratified and deposited the convention of AFREC with the African Union (AU) Commission. Other countries are at different stages of ratification.
On 22 May 2019, the African Union Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affair of People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria signed the Host Country Agreement of African Energy Commission (AFREC). The Host Agreement was signed by the AU Commission Legal Counsel of Ambassador Dr Namira Negm and Algeria’s General Director of the Protocol, Mr Magramane Lounes that will see the African Energy Commission headquartered in Algiers, Algeria.
A major function of AFREC is to design, create and update an energy continental database and facilitate rapid dissemination of information and exchange of information among the African Member States. AFREC has successfully created the first-ever “Africa Energy Information System (AEIS)” which helps officials in charge of energy to take heed of issues related to sustainable development, promotion of national, regional and continental energy resources, access of disadvantaged populations to energy services and efficient definition of national energy policies. AEIS also helps to clarify and monitor the objectives of African energy policies, and particularly those relating to the populations’ access to energy services.
AFREC mobilises financial resources for the development of Africa’s energy needs and provides technical assistance to the Member States and all other stakeholders in Africa’s energy structure. AFREC also organises regional and international seminars on capacity building as well as regional training workshops. The first seminar on capacity building was organised in Algiers, Algeria in April 2003. AFREC Regional Training Workshops have been held at Douala (Cameroon), Johannesburg (South Africa), Dakar (Senegal), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Accra (Ghana) and Brazzaville (Congo). In March 2019, AFREC held a Regional Training Workshop in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on Energy Statistics and Energy Efficiency Data Collection for West and North African Countries.
The workshop focused on the use of basic energy data to build complete and accurate energy balances through the use of consistent definitions and units in order to inform national energy policymakers and enable consistent regional and international reporting. The workshop in Douala (Cameroon) was organised by AFREC in April 2019 in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and energy of Cameroon and International Energy Agency (IEA). The workshop was attended by 30 participants from 11 countries from central African countries as well as central African organizations namely Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO), Central African Power Pool (CAPP) and Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).
Thus, AFREC is committed to promoting cooperation, research and development on energy issues as well as supporting integration, harmonization and resource mobilization for energy harnessing programmes in African countries.