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How economic cooperation in the energy sector in the Sahel can succeed

The Sahel has enormous potential for renewable energy, yet it is one of the regions with the greatest energy poverty in the world. According to the UN, 51% of the population in the Sahel has no access to electricity, while energy demand is increasing by more than 4% annually. On the one hand, this is of course a huge market potential for renewable energy production. On the other hand, the energy crisis there is closely linked to the (security) political, economic and humanitarian situation.

A classic vicious circle, as a stable energy infrastructure and generation is ultimately a prerequisite and driving force for economic growth. Many sectors, jobs, education and health services depend on access to energy services. According to estimates by the African Development Bank (AfDB), energy poverty in Africa costs the continent 2 to 4 per cent of GDP every year. Germany should therefore also use its development policy to support and promote German companies that support the expansion of the installation of photovoltaic systems in the region (in terms of financing and training for installation and maintenance). This will also create local jobs, ensure technology transfer and significantly reduce the carbon footprint.

On the evening of 13 June, the German Africa Foundation and Fokus Sahel hosted a panel discussion at the German Parliamentary Society in Berlin to discuss the needs and opportunities for economic cooperation in the energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa. Because one thing is clear: the financial and technological support of industrialised nations is necessary for the development of a sustainable energy supply.

Nouhoum Keita, journalist, radio producer and co-founder and coordinator of the non-governmental organisation Action Solidarité pour les 21 villages de la commune Faléa (ASFA 21 FALEA) in Mali, gave an impressive portrayal of the consequences of the energy shortage in his home region. Marthe Zio from the Centre d'Études et d'Expérimentation Économiques et Sociales de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (CESAO) in Burkina Faso emphasised the role that the development of decentralised electricity grids and renewable energies play in improving the situation. EWIA co-founder and Director West Africa Wolf-Dietrich Fugger explained to an interested audience (former Federal President Horst Köhler, President of the German Africa Foundation Uschi Eid, Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, Volkmar Klein as Africa advocate in the German Bundestag, etc.) the role that investments by German companies can play and the opportunities this offers for private investors, using EWIA as an example.


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