H.E. the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy and the Italian Government through H.E. the Italian Ambassador to Ethiopia and to the African Union, accompanied by the Deputy Ambassador, representatives of the Legal Counsel, Protocol and Department of Information and Communication signed a Financial Agreement to support capacity development for small hydropower in the East African Community.
A key barrier in development of small hydropower in Africa is the acute shortage of skilled small hydro personnel and in particular the almost total absence of skilled personnel with hands-on expertise who are not only crucial for Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of small hydro plants but can also play a key role in rehabilitation of defunct small hydro installations as well as development of new small hydro plants.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Dr. Elham Ibrahim, AUC commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy recognized the importance of the Italian financial contribution to the AUC that will enable the Energy Division to increase its commitments to the improvement of energy access, energy efficiency and energy security in Africa.
The Italian Ambassador highlighted the context of this agreement saying it is within the framework of the Italy-Africa Initiative and the Italy-Africa Conference on Energy Cooperation entitled “Italy-Africa: Working Together for a Sustainable Energy Future” that took place in October 2014. He also stressed that this is also in the light of Italy’s role as European co-chair of Africa-EU Energy Partnership to further strengthen its cooperation and shared interests with the AUC in energy matters and beyond. He also made a point that energy is a cross-cutting issue affecting all sub-sectors and aspects of society. Energy is specifically relevant for the promotion of Peace and Security, effective Humanitarian crisis management, and Human Rights.
The EAC has already carried out a scoping exercise of technical capacity building on Small Hydropower as a starting point to work with the RECs in the area of Small Hydropower.
The coordination of the implementation of the project will be conducted by the AUC DIE together with the East African Community and will start in November 2015 for a period of three years with an initial budget of 200.000 Euros for the first year. This initiative is open for other potential partners to join.
Source: African Union Commission (AUC)