What France is doing in Africa in the Renewable Energy front

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Speech by His Excellency the Ambassador of France in Nigeria, Mr Denys GAUER on “What France is doing in Africa in the Renewable Energy front”

Honorable guests, dear organizers and participants, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me first thank the organizers of the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo for giving me the opportunity to talk to you.
As all of you perfectly know, in less than two months, France will be hosting the UN 2015 Conference on Climate Change, also called the “COP 21”.

In our capacity as future presidency, we are working with all countries, transparently, to support the negotiating process towards an agreement everyone will be able to own, an agreement that enables us to limit the planet’s average temperature rise to less than 2ºC or 1.5ºC before the end of the century.

My country is very active and committed. It works hard, with all its partners and all of you, for this international conference to be a success and an achievement. We should not miss any opportunity to talk about the environment, climate change, and renewable energy. I therefore appreciate that France is given the opportunity to speak at this Expo in Abuja.

Today I have the honor to be given the floor, and tomorrow my colleague Mr Stéphane Gompertz, the French Ambassador for climate in Africa and the Middle-East, who is specially coming from France for this event, will also be with us and give a speech.

As far as I am concerned, I have been asked to brief you about “What France is doing in Africa in the Renewable Energy front”.

I – So let us first assess the situation in the energy sector in Africa
Energy is a priority for development. Africa is generally experiencing rapid growth of 5% per year, but this is not the case everywhere on the continent, and the benefits for the populations are quite uneven.

Development through electrification is certainly not a new idea, but it has yet to materialize. Yet the urgency is there: 650 million people are currently without access to electricity on the continent, and that number is likely to grow significantly, with the African population doubling by 2050.
This is obviously a social emergency. For children to be able to do their homework at night, so that women stop giving birth in the dark, so that medical supplies can be kept in refrigerators, so that the youth of Africa consider a prosperous future on their own continent, it is necessary that access to electricity become widespread.

It is also an economic emergency. The development of electrification would offer new opportunities for African firms, which would first benefit to the African populations and in turn would also benefit the global economies.
What about Nigeria? According to the Endowment Fund “Energy for Africa”, only 48% of the Nigerian population has access to electricity.
I have well noted that Nigeria has an ambitious plan to provide electricity to many of its remote villages through solar energy. The project presented by the federal ministry of Power consists of having villages equipped with solar energy in every state of the federation within the four coming years.
Three pilot villages have already accepted to assess the feasibility and the possible impact of this project, which aims at being extended to hundreds of other villages.

I know that the Nigerian government is also considering a Bill for promoting investment in the renewable energy sector, which will probably be discussed in depth here.
Last but not least, the Global Environment Facility, with an expected 50 million dollars participation of the Nigerian government and the private sector, is to implement in Nigeria a project for the promotion of green technology and renewable energy.

This project aims at stimulating the investment of the private sector in the field of renewable energy. In order to achieve that, the legislation should of course be favorable for doing so. A pilot project has the objective of injecting 100 MW of renewable energy in the power sector.

II – Let us considering now the different instruments for the promotion of renewable energy on the continent and the role of France in pushing for these instruments
There are different instruments for the promotion of renewable energy. Let me specially mention two of them.
First, the Sustainable Energy for All Africa Hub (se4all)

This initiative, launched by the African Union in June, shall improve the access to sustainable energy by increasing by 10 GW the African capacities in terms of renewable energy before 2020, and up to 300 GW before 2030. Egypt is now heading the working group in charge of the implementation of this initiative. France is also associated, as well as Germany and the African Development Bank.

The objective, since the G7 meeting in Elmau, Germany, is to ensure that this initiative is coherent with the one of the G20 in the same field. We seem to be on the right track, as in Istanbul on 2nd of October the Ministers of Power of the G20 expressed their support to the initiative. The African Union Commission and the African Development Bank have played a key role. The initiative now needs to be taken on by the G20 Heads of States, in November in Antalya.
The meetings between President Adesina and the Egyptian minister Khaled Fahmy in New York and Cairo have shown that we have to work to avoid any rivalry between the African Development Bank on the one hand and the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (under Egyptian presidency) on the other hand, about who should manage the initiative.

Despite this issue, a strategy paper has been completed:
– It provides with an objective in terms of quantity (10 GW of renewable energy before 2020, and 300 GW before 2030) and of quality (the speeding up and increased coordination of existing activities by the different partners)
– It does at this stage not include a budget (even though a contribution of 3 million US Dollars is expected before mid-2016)
– It assigns the governance of the initiative to the partners. The will of the African Development Bank to host the secretariat of the initiative has not yet obtained a consensus.

The initiative will only be a success if all the stakeholders manage to work together.
We should now get mobilized so that the initiative gets the wider support possible. Africans in particular – the African Union but also countries like South Africa or Nigeria – need to promote it with their public partners, such as the G20 Heads of States, as well as with private partners.
Secondly, the Jean-Louis Borloo Endowment Fund “Energy for Africa”

In order to support all actions of general interest that contribute to facilitate the access of the African continent’s inhabitants to electrical energy, Mr Jean-Louis Borloo, a French politician and former Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, created the Endowment Fund “Energy for Africa”.
The objective of this initiative is to set up an organization, or an agency, dedicated to funding energy infrastructures in Africa.
The amounts to be mobilized are certainly substantial. We estimated 50 billion dollars to be the amount of subsidies required and 250 billion dollars to be the total investment to reach within 15 years, an electrification rate of 80% on the continent. The magnitude of this task requires the launch of a “lighting plan”.

Sure, some infrastructure exists already. The Green Climate Fund, promised by industrialized countries at the Copenhagen conference in 2009, was endowed to the tune of 10 billion dollars and should finally, in Paris, be put at 100 billion dollars. President Obama’s Power Africa plan provides an investment of 7 billion dollars over 5 years. Besides this, there are other initiatives of bilateral and multilateral donors. But these actions, however laudable they may be, do not allow today to ensure sufficient momentum to satisfy the needs of the entire continent.

It is in this perspective that Mr Borloo advocates for the creation of an agency for the electrification of Africa, with the ambition of being a single receptacle for all initiatives and international investment for the development of access to electricity, and promote the development of access to electricity projects across the continent by meeting the technical, institutional, legal or financial requirements of Africans.
The current situation is not inevitable. There is a real opportunity to bring light to a continent, this continent – Africa – that will be home to 40% of the world population at the end of the century. The agency for the electrification of Africa aims at being the keystone of this development.

III – Now, what about the energy sector in Nigeria and the French intervention in that field
In Nigeria, and as you better know than me the energy sector has for long been deteriorated. One can remind all the jokes Nigerians make on it.
The reform initiated by the government in 2005 has allowed the private sector, since 2012, to participate in the management of power production stations (GENCOs), of the unique power transportation public company, and of 11 electricity distribution companies (DISCOs).

The government also created the National Electricity Bulk Trader (NBET) in order to ensure that the commercial relations between the different actors go well, as well as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in charge of regulating and monitoring the sector.

(1. Electric power)

So we may consider that the Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 provided the new legal framework and that the long privatization process, was finally implemented, at least partially, in 2012. But it seems that the business plan for the sector, allowing the private to become profitable and to expand their activity, has still to be clarified.

Now specially, concerning, renewable energy,
Since 2010, the government has been dedicated to the boosting of renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric power, solar power, or wind power. In 2009, the Nigerian government has assigned the French company Vergnet to establish a wind farm of 10 MW in Katsina state for more than 20 million euros.
This farm, with 37 windmills, should start producing and be connected to the grid in the beginning of next year, 2016.

The same French company, Vergnet, initiated another project, of solar power this time, in Osun State. A photovoltaic power station of 13 MW should soon be connected to the grid in order to inject 19 000 MW per hour per year. The total cost of the project amounts to 35 million euros.

Let me also mention that the French group TOTAL, of course known for being a world leader in oil extraction and fossil fuel, has recently bought the American company called “SunPower”. This company produces high level products with the highest photovoltaic efficiency (28% of energy transformed into power, that is to say the double of the capacity of some competitors). TOTAL is now willing to develop a solar energy project in Katsina state.
This public commitment in boosting the development of renewable energy sources is very encouraging. It will even be stronger if the legal framework in the renewable energy front improves.

The adoption by the government, in May 2015, of a public policy on renewable energy and energy efficiency is much welcome. It gives ambitious objectives: 18% of clean and renewable energy before 2020, and 20% before 2030.
I will conclude by presenting the action of the French Development Agency (the AFD) in the energy sector in Nigeria.

This sector is one of the three priority sectors identified by the Agency in its 2014-2016 strategy in Nigeria.
Nigeria is also one of the first African countries targeted by the Sustainable Energy for All initiative I have talked about earlier. Last month, in September, the country has indeed presented its objectives and plan of action for this initiative. The government has declared the access to power its first development priority and has asked the AFD to play a role in addressing this challenge, especially in terms of transporting electricity.

The AFD is contributing to the development of the electricity transportation network by supporting the public company Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN). On the occasion of a first project aiming at increasing the power supply for the federal capital city, Abuja, the AFD has granted 170 million of dollars to the federal government in 2013. This project is on-going. A second one is considered for 2016.

The AFD is willing to improve the efficiency of the private supply networks: a 150 million US Dollars soft Credit facility granted to two local banks is under final assessment by AFD for funding Distribution Companies investments.
In addition, AFD is working on another 150 million US Dollars Credit facility to support the private sector initiatives in favor of clean and renewable energy. This model of credit facility, called SUNREF, has been very successful in East Africa. I have no doubt that it will also be a success in Nigeria where the private sector is pro-active.

The AFD is also willing to support the reform of vocational training in the power sector through financing the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN). The lack of labor force and qualified technicians has been so far an obstacle to the success of the sector reform. NAPTIP is now keen to change its culture and governance models in order to satisfy needs of training from private and public operators.

In short, if we include the activities of Proparco, more focused on direct loans to private sponsors in power generation, the AFD Group will therefore be active in three key sections in Nigeria: Production, Transmission and Distribution.

For more information on the actions of the French Development Agency in Nigeria, I strongly invite you to take contact with their team here in Abuja. They will be able to give you more details about their projects concerning the transportation of energy, the vocational training in this sector, the support to the electricity distribution companies or independent power producers, and the “energy efficiency / renewable energy” program as well as the one on “Access to affordable green energy”.

This is what I wanted to share with you on what France is doing in Africa – and in Nigeria of course – in the Renewable Energy front.
I thank you for your attention./.

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