Energy deeply influences the life of rural communities. It is fundamental to all aspects of human welfare, including access to clean water, health care and education and increasing agricultural productivity.
Still, 2.7 billion people lack access to efficient and clean energy for cooking and heating, and 1.3 billion lack access to electricity; about 84% of this deprived population lives in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia. In many African countries, for example, women make up 70% of the agricultural workforce, are responsible for managing 90% of all household water and fuel-wood needs and undertake 60% of all harvesting and market work. Although they predominate in world food production (50 - 80 %), women own less than 10 percent of land. They are poorer than men (in terms of resources and time).
It is in that framework that the Pan African Parliament, in collaboration with Climate Parliament and UNDP, organized a one day workshop on “Mainstreaming Sustainable Energy Access in Africa”, which took place at Midrand, South Africa, on 4 August 2014. The workshop was attended by Members of Parliament from 3 Committees namely, i) the Parliamentary Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment; ii) the Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Industry, Communication, Energy, Science and Technology; and iii) the Parliamentary Committee on Gender, Family, Youths and People with Disabilities. 48 MPs attended the workshop.
The overall objective of the workshop was to deepen the knowledge and understanding of Members of Pan African Parliament with regard to renewable energy development and sustainable energy, so that they are better equipped to contribute to policy and financing discussions on these subjects.
The workshop focused in particular on the potential of renewable energy for poverty alleviation, economic development and gender equality. It further highlighted the importance of mainstreaming sustainable energy across different sectors and policies and reviewed possible financing mechanisms for renewable energy development.
At the close of the workshop, the attending MPs adopted a set of policy recommendations for renewable energy development among Pan-African Parliament states. These recommendations were signed by the respective committee chairs and will be put to the Pan-African Parliament’s plenary session shortly. The full text is available here, but the key recommendations are the following:
1. Mainstream renewable energy in short and long-term national developments plans and strategies;
2. Identify barriers to the participation of women and girls in designing, formulating, training and capacity development on RE.
3. To build gender sensitive policy frameworks that can deliver on the particular energy needs of women and girls.
4. Put in place policies that regulate the renewable energy industry and promote its further development, so that Africa is better positioned to transition to sustainable energy and meet the continent’s growing energy needs;
5. Adopt renewable energy as a strategic choice and develop comprehensive programs for renewable energy industries and markets.
6. Encourage the Members of Parliament to urge their respective governments to commit a minimum of 1% of the national budget to the promotion of renewable energy.
This workshop was organized in the framework of the UNDP-Climate Parliament Parliamentary Action on Renewable Energy project (PARE), funded by the European Commission and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For more information, please contact Lotte Geunis at email@example.com.