Renewable energy was one of the issues discussed at the second conference of energy ministers from Africa and the United States.
DURBAN, South Africa – The first U.S.-Africa Energy Ministers Conference was hosted by the U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson last December (1999) in Tucson, Arizona. That meeting highlighted the need for a strong partnership between the U.S. and African countries for the development and utilization of energy resources. The second conference was held in South Africa, at an important period of a changing environment for energy, both globally and in African nations. That continent is coping with increased demands for privatization, liberalization and commercialization of state owned companies and increased public/private sector participation and involvement. “This second conference enabled key policy and decision-makers from these countries to outline more concrete steps to promote clean energy development and policy reforms that will increase investments and strengthen regional energy integration,” explains Ernie Moniz, Under Secretary of Energy. “We are especially pleased that the process started by Secretary Richardson last year has greatly increased communication among the African energy ministers and with the United States.” More than 400 participants from 30 countries attended the conference, including representatives from government, the private sector, international organizations, African regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations. The meeting of energy ministers was also complemented by a two-day conference on Women in Energy and a day for private consultations as part of the Pan-African Energy Ministers consultation meeting. The conference also gave industry representatives an opportunity to meet with African governments to explore potential investment and project development opportunities as well as hindrances to expanded investment in some African countries. The Ministers adopted declarations in clean energy and investment that will serve as plans of action to advance the goals of the first conference. The plans are definitive, achievable and adaptable to the institutional and resource capacity and priorities of individual nations, explains Moniz. The Ministers also approved two other declarations, one on oil spill response and another that recognizes that, in developing countries, women are primary energy users and there is a need to explore ways to set policy that will empower and promote safer and healthier technologies for women. The U.S. Department of Energy will provide follow-up capacity building on both issues. Countries represented at the conference included Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The main emphasis of the conference was the sustainable development of African energy resources through increased private sector participation, sound energy policies, good regulatory and legal framework, and addressing challenges facing women in the energy sector, says conference documents.