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The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has launched a report detailing the state of energy access and security in 14 Eastern African countries. The report finds that Eastern Africa's population has one of the lowest electricity access rates in the world, ranging from 1% in the State of South Sudan (9.3 million people without access) to 22.5% in Ethiopia (nearly 64.5 million without access).
The report, titled Energy Access and Security in Eastern Africa - Status and Enhancement Pathways, uses various assessment methodologies and case studies of Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda to give an overall picture of energy access and security in the region. It finds that traditional biomass remains a primary source of energy, resulting in forest stock reductions of almost 40% in Burundi and Uganda, 20% in Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania, and 4-8% in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Kenya and Madagascar since 1990.
While consumption levels of petroleum have increased by 63% in the last ten years, the region's refining capacity has decreased, leaving it almost entirely dependent on imported refined petroleum. The import of oil is a growing share of countries' gross domestic product (GDP) and diverts resources from development, according to the report.
Launching the report in Kigali, Rwanda, Yohannes Hailu, UNECA Economic Affairs Officer in Charge of Energy, commented on ways to increase energy security in the region, saying that "Countries in the region which have the capacity to generate more power, given their energy resource potential, should increasingly look at regional energy trade opportunities that would mutually benefit all the economies of the region."
In addition to increasing regional energy trade, the report recommends, inter alia: undertaking greater transboundary and multilateral cooperation on water resources to support the development of the energy sector; using a combination of "coherent, consistent and conducive" policy and regulatory frameworks that are adapted to local conditions to encourage the deployment of renewable energy; and greater South-South collaboration, and in partnership with countries with strong energy innovation systems, on science and technology with the aim of enhancing indigenous energy technology capacity.
Additional information: Full report
News date: 10/06/2014