SADC moves closer to establishing renewable energy centre

by Joseph Ngwawi
The long-awaited centre to promote the utilisation of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency initiatives in southern Africa is expected to be officially launched by June following the completion of the process of selecting a host nation and the appointment of secretariat staff.

According to Nokwazi Moyo, the interim coordinator, the organisation will be launched after the ongoing process to formalise the establishment of the body is completed.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Centre for Renewable and Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) is hosted by Namibia, and based in Windhoek at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.

“We need to finalise the legal processes to formalise the establishment of SACREEE in Namibia,” Moyo told members of the SADC Energy Thematic Group (ETG) who met in Gaborone, Botswana on 9 March.

The management team will be headed by an executive director appointed by the executive board and will consist of various levels of permanent staff to be complemented by consultants and seconded international staff as may be deemed necessary from time to time.

The selection process for the executive director and the “target date for commencement of duty of the person appointed is June”, according to Moyo.

However, the selection of the executive director is dependent on the appointment of a nine-member executive board that will comprise representatives of member states, the SADC Secretariat and SADC energy subsidiary organisations such as the Southern African Power Pool and the Regional Electricity Regulatory Association of Southern Africa, as well as civil society organisations and the private sector.

The executive board will be supportedas required by technical experts forming a technical committee.

In terms of composition of the two bodies, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and Austrian Development Agency (ADA) will have seats on both the executive board and technical committee as initial core partners.

Core partners are those organisations who support the technical and institutional operations of the centre through considerable long-term contributions.

ADA and UNIDO have pledged to provide financial support to the centre for the first three years. After that, the centre should be self-sustaining.

Once the SACREEE is established, other donor partners will be invited to join the executive board depending on their financial contributions to the centre.

The executive board will be the highest decision-making body for SACREEE, which will provide strategic guidance and approve the annual work plans and budgets, progress reports and financial statements of the centre.

The technical committeewill provide monitoring and review functions on behalf of the executive board and technical advice and opinion to the board.

The composition and membership of the committee will be decided by the executive board, butwill need to include experts representing member states, SACREEE Secretariat and SACREEE specialist bodies, international partners and civil society, including renewable energy and energy efficiency research institutions.

“The launch date for SACREEE depends on a number of issues, which include the dispatch of the Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding (IGMOU) to member states, Namibian cabinet approval and alignment with other calendar events such as the SADC energy ministers meeting, other SADC events and Namibia’s scheduled events,” said Moyo.

Namibia was confirmed as host of SACREEE by the SADC Energy Ministers Meeting held in July 2015 in South Africa. Establishment of the centre is expected to be carried out in three phases, the first of which involves the selection of a host country and establishment of the SACREEE Secretariat.

The Preparatory Phase is the current phase which involves the creation and inauguration of the SACREEE executive board and technical committee.

The next stage is the First Operational Phase, which is expected to run from April 2016 to March 2019 during which the centre will primarily focus on developing renewable energy programmes for the region and resource mobilisation.

The Second Operational Phase, from 2019-2022, will focus on activities to ensure sustainability of the centre after the exit of international cooperating partners such as UNIDO.

The establishment of SACREEE is expected to increase the uptake of clean energy in southern Africa, enabling the region to address some of its energy challenges.

An increase in the uptake of renewables will allow the region to achieve a renewable energy mix of at least 32 percent by 2020, which should rise to 35 percent by 2030. Currently, SADC generates about 74 percent of its electricity from thermal stations.

Development of a harmonized regional policy framework for new and renewable energy has been identified as an important step towards realization of SADC’s goal of achieving the balance between meeting the region’s energy needs and ensuring sustainability of the environment.

SADC is working on a draft Regional Renewable Energy Strategy, which seeks to promote the uptake of clean energy and ensure that southern Africa takes advantage of the numerous renewable energy opportunities that exist in the region.

According to the Energy Division of the SADC Directorate on Infrastructure and Services, almost all SADC Member States have energy policies in place while only three have so far developed renewable energy policies. These are Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

SADC data also shows that only Mauritius, South Africa and Zambia presently have renewable energy strategies in place while Mauritius is the only Member State with an existing renewable energy master