The Southern Times' Annines Angula (AN) engaged the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), Katharina Schreiber (KS) on issues to do with renewable energy supply in the Southern African Development Community, The Following is a full transcript of the Interview.
AN: Public Relations Advisor Why is SACREEE an important agency to Southern Africa and Namibia in general and in terms of promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency?
KS: According to the SADC’s development agenda, regional cooperation is a strong driver for improving people’s living conditions.
Austria congratulates the SADC Secretariat and the Government of Namibia for their leadership in bringing forward the establishment of SACREEE. SACREEE as a regional think tank will be instrumental in supporting the SADC Member States in moving forward their sustainable energy development agenda.
It is the mandate of SACREEE to contribute to increased access to sustainable energy services and improved energy security across the SADC region through the promotion of market-based adoptions of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies and energy services in SADC Member States.
AN: What have ADA been doing to assist Southern African countries to adopt renewable energy technologies?
KS: In the last years, Austria has committed an amount of about € 15,00 Mio. in the SADC region to support sustainable energy initiatives:
► Austria takes part (€ 7,00 Mio.) in the Energy and Environment Partnership with the Nordic Development Fund and Finland (15 target countries in Southern and East Africa).
► We are funding (€ 4,58 Mio.) the Southern African Solar Training and Demonstration Initiative, SOLTRAIN, in 6 targeted member states (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) in the SADC Region.
► Austria is the first donor who committed support (€ 1,80 Mio.) for the establishment of SACREEE, the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
► Austria also funds (€ 1,30 Mio.) the Southern African Research and Development Centre in their services for SADC in communicating energy results in Southern Africa
► And in cooperation with the Southern African Research and Development Centre, we support gender equality in renewable energies in the SADC Region (€ 0,50 Mio.)
Finally, Austria co-chaired the SADC Energy Thematic Working Group until the end of December 2017, a forum that brings together the SADC and its international cooperation partners to pool resources towards the realization of the main SADC priorities in the energy sector.
This engagement is also honoured by our partners and the SADC. In their 2017 meeting, the SADC Energy Ministers explicitly acknowledged Austria’s contributions and support in improving access to clean and sustainable energy services in the SADC Region.
AN: Why do you think it’s important for Southern Africa to adopt/ or go for renewable energy?
KS:Access and efficient use of modern energy drives economic growth by improving standards of living and industrial productivity, thereby enabling social and economic development. Therefore, the provision of reliable and sustainable energy is a priority of the SADC Development Agenda and its vision of economic well-being and poverty eradication, as laid down in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Still, the SADC Region is facing some challenges in our common engagement to achieve the Agenda 2030 and putting into action Sustainable Development Goal 7 in particular. Currently, over 50% of SADC’s population still has no access to electricity. But fortunately, there is huge untapped potential for sustainable energies in the SADC region. And the SADC Member States can demonstrate vast achievements in increasing access to sustainable energy services over the last decades.
This is why Austria explicitly supports the development of sustainable energies in our development cooperation in the SADC region. Here, Austria and the SADC have a longstanding and successful partnership in the area of sustainable energies. Together with the Nordic Development Fund and the Government of Finland, Austria participates in the Energy and Environment Partnership, EEP, a financing facility in Southern and East Africa. Austria also funds the Southern African Solar Training and Demonstration Initiative, SOLTRAIN, in 6 SADC Member States. And we support the Southern African Research and Development Centre in its services for the SADC Secretariat – both in communicating energy results realized in Southern Africa and in promoting gender equality in renewable energies.
AN: What sort of assistance will ADA render to SACREEE to ensure that it meets its mandate to promote renewable energy and energy efficient technologies?
KS: ADA, the implementation unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation, provides financial assistance to SACREEE in the form of grant contributions and funding of technical expertise. In addition, The Austrian Development Agency acts as a broker for bringing together the vast knowledge of Austrian know how in the field of renewable energy in the private sector and Academia as well as development partners, financing institutions and both regional and international experts.
AN:Do you think SADC members of states have progressed enough in developing policies, legal frameworks and capacity for renewable energy and energy efficiency? - If not, What do you think they have to do ?
KS:Yes, the SADC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Strategy elaborated with Austrian technical assistance provides an innovative and future-oriented framework for the SADC member states to make use of the abundant potential of sustainable energy resources (hydropower, solar, wind etc.) and energy efficiency.
Ensuring universal access to sustainable energy services by 2030 has been agreed in 2015 in form of Sustainable Development Goal 7. The overall aim of the SADC Strategy is to ensure access to sustainable energy services to all people living in the SADC region. From Austria’s point of view, affordable access to clean and healthy sustainable energy services (i.e. cooking, lighting, heating, cooling etc.) is a major prerequisite for sustainable human development in the SADC region. This is why Austria has been supporting the SADC and its member states in investing in sustainable energy sources already for a long time.
The Austrian Development Agency highly appreciates the engagement and commitment of the Government of Namibia in realizing SDG7.
SACREEE is mandated by the SADC and its member states to assist them if necessary to develop their policies, legal frameworks and structures. Therefore, SACREEE can play a significant role in creating an enabling environment to to exhaust the potentials of sustainable energies in their countries.