In a historic meeting on 3 June 2021, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, the eleven Ministers of Energy of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) approved a Renewable Energy Roadmap and the creation of the Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Central Africa (CEREEAC) as a specialised institution. During the meeting, the Ministers accepted the kind offer of Angola to host the centre in Luanda.
„The Renewable Energy Roadmap is our vision and the centre is the technical capacity to transform it into action”, concluded the meeting of Ministers. The CEREEAC will operate under the ECCAS umbrella and advise Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe on critical issues of the energy and climate transition. As part of the economic integration efforts of ECCAS, the CEREEAC will work towards an integrated and inclusive market for sustainable energy products and services in Central Africa.
Once operational, the CEREEAC will reduce market barriers by promoting economies of scale, joint coordination, learning, tools and methodologies. It will become a hub for international partnerships and a window for innovation and technology transfer to the region. The centre will become member of the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC), which will cover the entire African continent. Under the umbrella of the African Union (AU), ECREEE, SACREEE, EACREEE, RCREEE and CEREEAC will advocate for an inclusive energy and climate transition, creating local employment and revenues.
The centre will address key energy and socio-economic development issues of the region. Global emergencies, such as climate change and the COVID-19 crisis, are demonstrating the vulnerability of the Central African economies, which are highly dependent on the export of raw materials, including oil and gas. The recent oil price drop and reduction of export revenues have had severe macroeconomic impacts on a number of ECCAS countries. It underlines the trend of past years and indicates future developments.
Therefore, the creation of CEREEAC is an important tool to boost the economic diversification and industrialisation aspirations of the Central African region. Access to affordable, reliable and clean energy services is an important ingredient for the successful implementation of the Industrialization and Economic Diversification Master Plan. On- and off-grid renewable energy solutions play a key role to address the energy challenges of the region, where still only 50% of the population has access to electricity and even less to modern cooking services.
The meeting of Ministers followed a regional expert workshop, which was jointly organised by ECCAS, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) from 1 to 2 June, and validated the Renewable Energy Roadmap and the technical and institutional design of CEREEAC. Over the past months, UNIDO and IRENA assisted the region in the development of the technical documents in a consultative process.
The creation of the centre is an important milestone of the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC), which is coordinated by UNIDO in partnership with various economic communities. The network covers more than 108 developing countries and facilitates south-south and triangular cooperation “from the region for the region”. The GN-SEC covers most of the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS). “Think globally, coordinate regionally and implement nationally”, is the guiding principle of the network.