The Ministry for the Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA) embarked on a fact finding mission to assess the level of access to energy in Africa and found that it is the lowest in the world. It was found that, more than 75 percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa (and more than 90 percent in rural areas) do not have access to electricity.
Notwithstanding the widespread energy poverty challenges in most African countries there is an invariably low capacity to tap into renewable energy resources regardless of its abundance on the Continent. Among the many challenges around development is the lack of access to infrastructure and essential services such as access to sustainable energy. The reason stated for this deficit is the overly-sophisticated interventions involved in the renewable energy sector. Despite the inefficiencies, and lack of technical capability to harness renewable energy, most impoverished countries in Africa have not passably attempted to harness the potential of available renewable energy sources, for example solar energy.
It is against this backdrop that the MFA and the Austrian Government established the Energy and Environmental Partnership Programme (EEP S&EA) with the aim to serve the energy needs of the participating African countries.
Establishment of the EEP Programme
In 2007 the Government of Finland decided on a new Development Policy Program which is an integral part of the foreign and security policy of Finland. Its primary aim is to contribute to the global effort for eradicating poverty through economically, socially and ecologically sustainable development. The Policy can also be seen as a response to new and growing development challenges that have risen along with the accelerating trend of globalization.
The new Development Policy Program laid much emphasis on energy as a key factor in the economic development and in combating climate change. Finland supports programs and projects that focus on saving energy, increasing energy efficiency and the production and utilisation of renewable energy.
At the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, Finland announced a partnership program on energy and environment together with seven Central American countries. Subsequently, the Energy and Environment Partnership with Central America (EEP-CA) was developed and has acquired effective working principles and methods, which concentrate on concrete projects in all fields of renewable energy. The basic idea was to adopt a bottom-up approach, providing partial (or co-) financing to project proposals prepared and presented by stakeholders directly engaged in the development of various local renewable energy sources and reduction of dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Special emphasis was laid on avoiding unnecessary administrative burden and on flexible and rapid actions by making use of modern information and telecommunications technologies. Based on its Development Policy and experiences in Central America, the Ministry for the Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA) has since established similar partnership mechanism with Southern and Eastern Africa, Andean countries, Mekong Region Countries and Indonesia.
After successful cooperation within the context of the EEP-Central America the Austrian Development Cooperation decided to join the EEP for Southern and East Africa (EEP-S&EA).Seeing that renewable energy and energy efficiency are the main focus areas of the energy policy of the Austrian Development Cooperation it was foreseen that synergies can be created within the ambit of the EEP S&EA Programme activities.