ARUSHA, TANZANIA, The East African Community (EAC) is taking pro-active measures to ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy sources across all its six member nations with the aim of developing sustainable economies through strengthened productive capacities.

The Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department at the EAC Secretariat here, Owora Othieno, says that the EAC is working at removing all barriers which hold back easy access to such energy sources across the sub-region. A platform is being set up to discuss ways in which multi-stakeholder partnerships can facilitate work towards this end and build capacities which promote socio-economic development in an environmentally sound manner.

He says the East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EACREEE), in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the EAC Secretariat, the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), Sustainable Energy For All (SEforALL) and the Ministry of Infrastructure of the Republic of Rwanda, are organizing the first Sustainable Energy Forum for East Africa next February.

The Sustainable Energy Forum will enable discussions about strategies that allow scale and support off-grid, mini-grid and grid-based solutions together, and harmonise RE & EE (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency) policies, to upscale financing in RE & EE projects and technologies, to exchange knowledge and experiences, and to inform about regional programmes,” he adds.

“Furthermore, the forum will entail a workshop on sustainable cities, the Geothermal potential and projects in East Africa as well as a workshop on gender responsive and socially inclusive approaches to sustainable energy solutions.”

The SEF-EA 2018 forum is set to take place in Kigali, Rwanda, for three days from Feb 19 under the theme, “Fostering Socioeconomic Transformation in the East African Region through Equitable Access to Sustainable Energy for All”.

The EAC bloc is the second largest single regional market in Africa and economically one of the fastest growing regions in sub-Saharan Africa, with an average gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.2 per cent per annum, well above the Sub-Saharan average. This is accompanied by population growth and urbanization.

The phenomena are magnifying the energy challenges of the EAC region. EACREEE said that the increasing demands to electrify and provide access to modern energy services are stretching the present utilised energy resources, hence the region faces an energy situation that is characterised by a high reliance on solid biomass for cooking and heating, low electrification rates and increasing demand for transportation fuel.