South Africa joins International Energy Agency

November 8th, 2018, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize

Jeff Radebe, the minister of energy, and Dr Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), jointly announced that South Africa has joined the IEA as an Association Country. South Africa is the first sub-Saharan African country to institutionalise its engagement with the IEA, a development which marks an important milestone for energy governance in Africa and globally. The IEA now includes 38 countries and represents 75% of global energy consumption.

Dr Fatih Birol, IEA and Jeff Radebe, DoE at the signing of the agreement.

“I approved of South Africa joining the IEA as an Association country because this decision places us at the centre of the global energy forum with positive economic benefits for our country as we learn from IEA family members,” said Radebe, adding that this membership will provide South Africa with a platform for regular dialogue with the IEA, its Members and Association countries, through the participation in meetings of IEA Standing Groups and Committees and Ministerial Meetings.

“South Africa joining the IEA represents a major milestone for our agency, bringing a key emerging leader in global energy policy around our table,” said Dr Birol. “We can count on a strong and engaged voice from Sub-Saharan Africa enriching our global policy exchange, and making the IEA more representative and global than ever. This is a region of the world that is particularly important to me, and where the IEA has been working for a long time”, he said.

As the largest energy consumer on the continent, South Africa holds about half of Africa’s electricity generation capacity, and has one of its highest electrification rates. It becomes the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to formalise its engagement with the IEA, opening new opportunities to jointly work toward a more sustainable and secure energy future for Africa and the world.

“Our relationship with the IEA has been strengthened by this mutually beneficial collaboration,” said Radebe. “South Africa will benefit from the IEA’s relationship and authority with its Member countries. We will improve on areas such as energy planning (including all sectors such as electricity, liquid fuels and gas), energy statistics, energy efficiency, grid integration and energy innovation to mention a few.”

“As the world moves to more advanced and sophisticated forms on energy, Africa must improve how it converts its natural resources into more efficient forms of energy in order to improve its economic status,” said Radebe. “South Africa has the most industrialised economy in Africa. It is the region’s principal manufacturing hub and is well endowed with natural resources such as coal and platinum. We believe that energy is and should be a prerequisite for growth and development. Energy should drive our economy to greater heights.”

South Africa was instrumental in the elaboration of key IEA reports on Africa, including the 2014 WEO Special Report and the 2017 Focus on Energy Access. As part of the association, both sides agree to build on past cooperation in the fields of energy data and statistics, training and capacity building as well as energy efficiency, renewables deployment and grid integration, and energy technology innovation.

Among the agreements signed by the two leaders was a three-year joint programme of work identifying opportunities for collaboration on energy statistics, energy efficiency, electrification and power system transition, renewables integration, energy innovation, and domestic gas market design.

South Africa has made important strides toward developing an energy sector roadmap that will ensure a cleaner future for the country and help keep pace with climate change commitments. South Africa’s recently drafted Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2018 includes the integration of a larger share of renewables, and introduction of measures to help reduce less sustainable sources of fuel in the mix.

“South Africa has shown great leadership over the past decades in regional – and global – energy and climate debates and its increased engagement will greatly help promote clean energy transitions and energy access in the region and beyond,” Dr Birol said, adding that South Africa’s decision to join the IEA family is a welcome development, and critical to the advancement of the IEA’s modernisation mandate, which was defined during the 2015 Ministerial meeting and is built on the pillars of opening the agency’s doors to emerging countries; broadening energy security beyond oil to natural gas and electricity; and developing a global clean energy hub, including for energy efficiency.

Send your comments to energize@ee.co.za