COMESA Energy Regulators hold dialogue on model solar standards

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has emphasized the need for member states in the region to address the infrastructural, policy and regulatory gaps that are currently existing in the management of the energy mix.

ZANIS reports that COMESA Assistant Secretary General, Kipyego Cheluget, says this is because these components in the energy sector are vital towards the attainment of various development goals articulated at national, regional, continental, and global levels.

Dr. Cheluget said this in a speech ready for him by Director of Infrastructure and Logistics at COMESA, Baptiste Mutabazi, during the stakeholder validation workshop on formulation of COMESA model solar standards and common tariff framework for solar products under the Regional Infrastructure Finance Facility (RIFF) in Lusaka today.

He expressed concern that despite the energy sector playing a pivotal role in facilitating the country’s economic development and commendable progress recorded over the years, most COMESA Member States are lagging behind with regards to the development of energy infrastructure.

He stated that the generation, transmission and distribution of infrastructure still remain inadequately developed to meet the development and social needs of the region.

Dr. Cheluget added that this is why access to affordable and sustainable energy still remains a challenge for many  people, hence the need to address the problems by coming up with a good energy policy at the core of the strategic planning process.

He explained that the RIFF Project aims at promoting economic transformation and regional integration in Eastern and Southern Africa by extending long-term development capital to catalyze private sector investment into infrastructure.

He said the project, which is financed by the World Bank at a total cost of 425 million United States Dollars, is targeted at facilitating an enabling environment and providing credit financing for infrastructure investment in the COMESA and Trade and Development Bank (TDB) regions.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary, Francesca Zyambo has disclosed that Africa is grappling with Infrastructure inadequacy which cuts across all sectors including energy, transport and information as well as communication which are eligible to benefit from the provisions of the regional infrastructure finance facility project.

Ms Zyambo explained that it is a well-known fact that the need for African governments to meet the social needs of the people has resulted in a huge financial burden which makes it difficult to adequately invest in infrastructure projects.

She said this is why there is need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders in the COMESA region to complement government’s efforts to ensure that the aspirations to have access to quality infrastructure are met.

Ms Zyambo added that despite creating a conducive environment for private investment and making available finances for projects, governments in the region will still need the contribution of projects such RIFF towards lessening their burdens.

She further applauded COMESA for validation of the documents on model solar standards, COMESA model common customs tariff framework for solar products and COMESA model energy policy, stating that these are important for the advancement of the energy sector in the region.

She said this in a speech ready for her by Director of Energy at the Ministry of Energy Arnold Simwaba.