Roundtable: "Renewable energy in West Africa: new context and new opportunities"

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Many countries have started to implement policies and to adopt legislation to harvest renewable resources - water, sun, wind, geothermal and biomass - to generate electricity, heat and fuel. As the world moves towards the adoption of renewable energy as a key source of energy production, the role of parliamentarians has been and will remain critical in the development of the legislation required to create and provide access to energy from renewable sources.

"To support the development of these renewable energies, all countries need necessarily to have an incentive legal and regulatory framework [...] as members of parliament, united, we can and must make a lucid, engaged and determined high-quality contribution, in all the initiatives taken in this field in accordance with ours tasks"

These are just one of the interventions of the President of the National Assembly of Senegal, Mr. Moustapha Niasse, who spoke at the opening of a roundtable "Renewable energy in West Africa: new context and new opportunitées", organized by the parliamentary actions network for renewable energy, the European Commission and the UNDP.

This two-day meeting brought together around thirty parliamentarians from Benin, Ivory Coast and Senegal, along with several national, regional and international actors working in the development of renewable energy sector in the West African region.

The goal was to allow the various stakeholders to meet and discuss the opportunities to promote green energy in these three countries of West Africa. Mr. Niasse also highlighted to how and how much the issue of renewable energy is "directly related to the climate and the survival of our planet," in such a way that the development of renewable energy becomes a necessity.

Another important point is the need to consider the private investment in renewable energy financing. He called on the private investors to finance renewable energy, explaining that "Truly focus on development of renewable energy in developing countries, requires substantial investment" and that "The planned investments must also include private investment for renewable energy financing".

Indeed, the construction of renewable energy projects involves significant initial investments. To significantly reduce its dependence on non-renewable source of energy, a country will have to make a major investment in production and transmission infrastructure, the cost can run into billions of dollars. Governments typically use three sources of funding for developing renewable energy: private funding, public financing and consumer financing.

In addition to obtaining the necessary financial investments, as rightly pointed out by Niasse, it is necessary (if not essential) to build a strong policy framework to move towards a successful national development of renewable energy.

Also here, a wide range of options is available. Governments may choose to make some immediate changes to policies that allow quick results (short-term actions) such as, set national targets, simplification of regulations and the granting of subsidies. This will serve to send clear signals about the government's commitment to the development of renewable energy, which is an important first step to get investment and build a comprehensive regulatory framework.

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Written by Arjuna Purcaro Decaro (Agora intern at UNDP)

sources:
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