15 June 2007
The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) has joined the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Energy Poverty Action, in initiative aimed at increasing basic electricity supply to African citizens.
The decision was taken on Wednesday against the backdrop of the World Economic Forum on Africa, being held in Cape Town this week.
As per the agreement, DBSA chairman Jay Naidoo and DBSA chief executive Paul Baolyi have committed to host the energy poverty action management unit (EPAMU) at the financial institution’s offices in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.
According to a statement issued by the WEF, the Energy Poverty Action (EPA) is a private sector initiative that provides business expertise and best practices to address what the forum terms “energy poverty” – the lack of access to electricity for most on the continent.
The EPA’s three initiating partners include South Africa’s Eskom, Canada’s British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority and Sweden’s Vattenfall.
WEF director of energy, Christoph Frei, was pleased with the development, stating that it provided a good platform to link international business capability with local community needs, to develop a brand for electrification projects and to help develop financing mechanisms for projects.
“EPAMU will be developed into a centre of excellence that will employ skills and expertise from some of the most committed energy companies in the world,” said Eskom’s managing director for resources and strategy, Steve Lennon.
“By developing sustainable, replicable models to address the challenges of energy poverty, EPAMU will facilitate the creation of local capacity, empowered to manage energy service delivery, maintain infrastructure and identify opportunities for future expansions,” he said.
However, Lennon maintains that the key element to the success of such projects is local empowerment and sustainability, with the power systems being operated and maintained without the need for subsidies or transfers from foreign sources.
“The joint solution of using alternative sources of renewable energy, expanding the national and regional grids, and using innovative cost effective technologies will contribute to more individuals, industries and businesses gaining access to electricity – this is what EPA offers,” he said.
The alliance has already committed to developing pilot projects in Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo, initially providing electricity to more than 70 000 people.